Facebook's inadvertent war on women continues. After saying it fixed a glitch locking scores od female user accounts yesterday, Facebook went on to tell more women this morning that they are banned for life as impersonators — of themselves. (Updated)
We've received emails from six different readers about the permanently banned accounts, all of which belonged to female users. All were caught up in a Facebook glitch yesterday that saw a slew of female accounts temporarily disabled as possible fakes. Affected users were asked to upload scans of government-issued identification.
Of the six women who contacted us, at least three sent in the requested ID. Still, all received the following response from Facebook late last night or this morning:
Fake accounts are a violation of our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Facebook requires users to provide their real first and last names. Impersonating anyone or anything is prohibited, as is maintaining multiple profiles on the site. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reactivate this account for any reason. This decision is final.
Thanks for your understanding,
The Facebook Team
None of the women have famous names or any other reason to think Facebook would find their ID or account unacceptable. And now they're being told that their online identity, basically, is gone forever. As one put it to us,
I've been on Facebook for over SIX YEARS. My name is spelled correctly on my account and on my profile (not some crazy spelling to throw people off), my picture is actually of me, and I've never had it any other way. I'm not Facebook obsessed, but I'm more pissed that they just booted me off like that - all my friends are on Facebook, and at this point it's sort of the standard way to invite people to parties, sell your random stuff, find out what people are up to on the weekend, etc.
The six female accounts we heard directly from are not isolated incidents. A quick skim of Twitter reveals still more permanent bans just in the past few hours (more here, here and here). At least one user has also blogged about her permanent ban.
The Twitter chatter has definitely subsided from yesterday's more widespread temporary bans, but the permanent bans are all the more disturbing because Facebook had said the glitch was resolved. The company issued a statement yesterday afternoon about the bug saying, "It's now been fixed, and we're in the process of reactivating and notifying the people who were affected." But for some accounts the problem has only escalated late last night and this morning with the new emails. Yesterday, when the bug was "fixed," Facebook was just temporarily disabling accounts and asking for IDs. Now it's shutting down legitimate accounts as fakes. That's new.
We reached out to Facebook for comment. A company spokesman said the social network was investigating the issue, and later wondered if there isn't a lag in people seeing the fix, writing, "We actually already reactivated all of the accounts that were affected and will be notifying the account owners shortly." Hopefully so, and hopefully without the problem resurfacing again in a few hours as it did last night. If you're still having any issues, we'd love to hear from you.
Update: We've heard back from three of the six account owners saying their access is restored, in two cases after we asked them to check again — if you received a note from Facebook about a "fake account," it's worth checking your account, even if the notice made the deletion sound permanent and arrived only this morning.