Why Facebook Jail is going to become more commonplace for users in the future. And what you can do about it.
So you’re in Facebook Jail, banned, restricted from liking, commenting and posting. I’ve been there recently and I’d like to relate my experience and what I’ve learned as a digital marketer. It’s correct to say that it’s becoming difficult to play virtual whack-a-mole with Facebook’s “Community standards”. There is a fine line between trampling freedom of speech and protecting the community from abuse. Unfortunately as a marketer one slip up can cost you. I have had to create a second profile. Give that profile admin access to my business manager and client pages.
This way should Facebook ban my main profile for whatever reason I can still get access to my earning power. Facebook’s platform is no longer a free place to express your opinion, as its algorithm seems to have gone mad. Like 1984, the thought police are becoming a reality. Facebook may mean well. Yet its becoming odious trying to anticipate what the bot does next. That is, if your interaction, past or present will get you locked out of your means of earning a living.
I am in Facebook jail now for the 4th time with a warning. All for doing nothing more than being sarcastic with my own friends. This has made me realize that I need to reevaluate my use of the platform moving forward. I am creating a roadmap for my eventual exit. You should consider it as well. If only to limit your use of the platform for sponsoring posts. Facebook’s algorithm is ramping up its banning executions, and you should be aware of this. Any small infraction it seems will remove your ability to earn. There are always alternatives to sharing your personal life. Let’s start talking about them.
What are my alternatives?
But Ian, you awesome marketing person you say, what else is there but Facebook!? There’s Twitter, for one. I have long ago left that platform for the completely opposite reason than Facebook. Twitter didn’t have any controls at all. Then you have the choice: stay and ignore the trolls and cancel culture or leave and keep your sanity. I chose to not interact on Twitter anymore and read it occasionally. I still acknowledge tags and retweets. But I do not find myself in heavy discussions on the platform anymore. It has kept me sane. This is what I plan to do with Facebook, moving forward, as a first step.
Keep in mind this is for your personal use and is not recommended for marketing purposes. Unfortunately you will still need a presence on Facebook to run ad campaigns. This also applies to Google. There is no way of getting around that virtual monopoly. Separate your personal feed with your business feed.
“But for a company that’s fervently trying to convince lawmakers it’s not a monopoly, some advice: It’s usually a bad thing when an entire sector of the economy is dependent on your service in order to survive.”Blocked on Facebook With Nowhere to Turn
So beyond Twitter there are many “social networks” you can join. You can invite your family and friends to any of these and help grow them. The order of these are ones I have used and recommend. Specifically the first three as I have used them and continue to use them. They are the best in use and adoption. I won’t go into the pros and cons of each, as this is not the scope of this article. I do encourage you to at least sign up for them and try for yourself.
- MeWe – Free but with a subscription service for more content. Promises not to sell your data nor does it manage your postings.
- Minds – a free-speech oriented servIce with no censorship. New users can take advantage of the “migrate from Facebook” function. Savvy users can also generate income via their social networking by getting monthly support for monetised posts and/or ad sharing.
- Parler – Ah the bad boy of the Internet. This is (it returned in May to the app stores) the “alternative” alternative to Facebook and Twitter. Its akin to MeWe & Minds. Worth a sign up and try.
- Vero – Haven’t used this in years but I loved the interface. Vero’s main selling points are that it’s ad free and doesn’t sort your timeline using algorithms. It is a paid service tho. You can do some free things with it. But, yeah, gotta pay.
- Diaspora – Created in 2010 as a direct alternative to Facebook. Based on three principles: decentralization, freedom and privacy. It’s free & best of all, users own their own data. I have never used it. So someone can tell me about their experience.
Now we’ve discussed some alternatives. The question is, is this enough for one to switch? For you to move to another platform you will need to bring your friends with you. This is Facebook’s number one draw and hook. You are where everyone is. It’s like going to a house party and everyone’s there. You really don’t want to go where there isn’t anything happening. If you encourage your family and friends to at least try it, you might reduce Facebook’s grip. Maybe wishful thinking? But not impossible.
But, I like Facebook, can’t I just stay here?
Ok. So you’ve decided moving your life isn’t in the cards. So how can you protect yourself from Facebook’s bot? Unfortunately there is not much you can do, but you can give it a shot.
Just remember that Facebook is not only “Facebook”. It’s Instagram, its Whatsapp and Messenger. All these they plan to mesh together in a bigger app. Or at least they will make them work together as one unit but with different apps. That means that if you commit an infraction or lose your ability to post on one you may lose the ability to post on others. My biggest fear is not being able to use Whatsapp at this juncture. I talked about the strength of Whatsapp for marketers in a previous post. If I lose the ability to message because I’m in Facebook Jail, business will definitely suffer.
Here are some ways of protecting yourself. Facebook isn’t controlled by the “community” anymore, keep that in mind. Yes people can report posts, but those aren’t the ones that cause you to go immediately to Facebook Jail. So before you start blaming “snowflakes” who don’t like a “good joke” know that an algorithm is at play. We’ve discussed keywords before in a previous post. Google Ads work on them. Facebook’s Bot has a preprogrammed list of “no no” words or sentences. This is a closely guarded secret. But people’s past experiences and leaks have thrown some light on the subject.
Things that land you in Facebook Jail. . .
Here is a small keyword list of things that people have been put in Facebook Jail when commenting or posting:
- Men/Women are. . . will trigger a ban regardless of the term following. Do not describe men or women as “anything”
- White or the word “Trash” combined with color descriptions
- Dumb (Sexual orientation) Do not add “gay” “lesbian” “trans” to any post with a derogatory adjective. In fact any use of LGBTQ posts are grounds to get a warning if put in a false light. Problem with this is that gays themselves are being banned for describing their own gay friends as “dumb”. Also “Gay men/women are. . . “
- Boys/Girls. . . (derogatory adjective)
- Evil (Christians/Muslims/Hindus, or any religious organisation)
- Use of the word “Crazy” (Goes against people with mental disorders) Even if describing your friend jokingly as “Crazy”)
- Anything with “Covid-19” may spark a warning and flag for “fake news” or the use of the word “Hydroxychloroquine.”
- the use of the word “Nazi” especially in the context of photos of Nazis and other World War II posts. Mentioning “Hitler” will also cause a problem.
- Calling someone a “racist”, is a 50/50 split. You can be banned for the context of the use of the term. But the bot is indiscriminate.
- and of course. No photos of nipples. But only female ones.
This list is in no way exhaustive. If you want to read more about Facebook Jail policies then go to this WSJ article (paywall). The Guardian UK also has a good article here. Also some of the terms gleaned come from user feedback here. Only keep in mind that the bot doesn’t understand human speech and nuances. Unfortunately, the pressure on Facebook is on. Tasked with removal of hate speech and fake news over the years has created a monster. Facebook outsourced its community management and it has failed spectacularly.
“Everything is about context. And the Facebook bot lacks that. It can scan for keywords but it cannot understand the context for what is being said. For example, an innocuous comment like “That man is a real terrorist” Triggers the bot “Man” (Gender specific) “Terrorist” (Hate Speech) or (Extremism). Apparently saying “Men/Women are. . .” triggers an automatic ban.”– Words that will get you put in Facebook Jail
More Reasons to Be Thrown in Facebook Jail
There are many reasons why you might be thrown into Facebook jail and be given a (hopefully) temporary time out. Unfortunately, it’s possible to find yourself in there for breaking Facebook rules unintentionally.
Here are some of the most common reasons why people end up in Facebook jail:
1. Posting to Quickly: Posting too quickly on your Facebook page is among the most common reasons for people getting thrown in Facebook jail. You can also get flagged when you post the same information too fast. The simple solution to help you avoid getting blocked for this reason is to have a consistent schedule for posting, and always leave some time between posts.
2. Sending Too Many Friend Requests in One Day: When you send too many friend requests from a personal profile, Facebook views this as a bad thing, especially if you don’t know the people. When such behavior is detected, the platform will likely block your account. The same goes for joining Facebook groups too fast.
3. Posting Inappropriate Content: Posting sexually suggestive content, or nudity on Facebook is prohibited and violates their community standards. Even though it may make you unable to post pretty funny memes, doing so will result in your account being disabled, either temporarily or permanently. You should also avoid posting self-harm content, hate speech, or credible threats to groups or individuals.
4. Too Much Tagging: If you always reply with tagging all the time, this is another reason why you might find your account blocked.
5. Using Spam Images or Videos: If Facebook (or Google) has marked certain images or videos as spam, and you use them in your posts and are thought to be spamming others, this can land you in Facebook jail. Luckily, this is easily avoided by creating original content for your posts.
6. Logging in with Different Accounts: If you log into Facebook at the same time using different accounts, even a business page, this can trigger a block on your account. You should only use one account on one device and use a different device if you need to have two accounts open at the same time. The solution can be a VPN. VeePN features include hiding IP addresses, unblock any web site, unblocking games, and much more. When managing different accounts, this will be the best solution in order not to get in Facebook jail.
7. Being Spammy: If you act “spammy” on Facebook by adding people you don’t know, using a business name for your personal account, and so on, you are likely to get banned. So don’t contact people through the messaging area with unwanted requests or content. Also, don’t add spammy links, don’t send bulk messages, and don’t excessively post images and links to people’s timelines, and don’t continually post identical content to different groups or places.
8. Using Automated Software: Something else Facebook frowns upon is the use of automated software on the platform. If you are liking or commenting on posts at a very fast-pace, Facebook will likely block your account. So make sure that you always control the speed with which you perform these activities.
9. Using Fake or Imposter Accounts: If someone reports that your account is fake or impersonating someone else’s account, Facebook won’t hesitate in blocking it permanently.
10. Fraud with Payments Through Facebook: Suspicious payments are among the recently emerging reasons for bans on Facebook. If you make a payment through a fraudulent card, the payment will be reversed, and your account will be instantly banned.
If you ever find your Facebook account blocked for misconduct, you can rest assured you violated at least one of the issues mentioned above.
Facebook has continually requested you read the Community Standards. Though they are extensive they are still very vague. Also the issue is the bot cannot understand the nuances of human emotion and intent. In your mind you may be making a joke, but before you know it you are in Jail. There is also no adequate way to appeal.in the real world you have the option to appeal decisions. Facebook doesn’t give you that right. You should keep in mind that Facebook has not publicly announced how many infractions will cause a deletion and permanent ban of your profile. The third or even tenth infraction could lead to a ban. There is no way to know. These are things to keep in mind.
What if I already got put in Facebook Jail or Facebook suspends my advertising account?
Unfortunately there is not much you can do. You have to wait it out. I’ve created a second profile (no easy task these days) and added them to my pages and Business Manager. This is like having your own employee who has access at the admin level. Be very careful. An unsecured profile can render your pages and business manager unusable. A third party can hack your account and the results can be worse than a Facebook ban. This will at least give you the opportunity to post and schedule content.
There is no magic way to unban yourself. You cannot find a guy on Fiverr to unban you. There is no hack or workaround that I have found to do this. Clicking “disagree” won’t do much, in fact it may lead to further bans. Do not pay someone to unban you. You will be wasting your money. Also did you know that Facebook can also ban you for posts you posted years ago? Or even comments you made years ago? Yep, so unless you remember every single comment you made on every single post in the 20 years Facebook’s been around, then you may be in trouble.
On a side note, if you are running badly written and spammy ad campaigns you can be banned. This has happened many times. In fact it has happened to legit businesses more and more of late. Facebook’s bot sometimes sees it as being spammy for the same reason it’s banning you for “hate speech”. Write and produce your ads well, and you reduce the risk of being banned.
Being banned is not the end of the world. But it is a nuisance and a bother. There is no remedy for it unless Facebook finds another way to manage the community.
What I learned from my 7 days in Facebook Jail
“Artist Sunny Chapman, who has received bans, said: ‘What I’m learning about Facebook is not to talk on Facebook.’”– Secret document reveals sentences that are banned on Facebook
Apart from having a nice little break from the platform. Something we should all do from time to time. Switch off the phone and do something else. The data collection, privacy issues and now militant thought policing has raised one too many red flags. It’s time to consider using Facebook for ads and nothing else. In the short term I am looking for personal alternatives. In the long term, Facebook isn’t going away, but I foresee its reduction in quality in the next five to ten years. People once thought MySpace was forever. Now it’s clear Facebook may not be forever either. Maybe that’s a good thing. I have written about Facebook Ad building here and why Google ads are a better alternative. But for me my exit from Facebook is starting.
What’s also a little damning is that all of us are “paying customers.” I run ads that pay Facebook money. I also click ads that’s served to me on Facebook and so that makes me the product. My rights as a consumer are in a bit of a question. This is another discussion for another time though.
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