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How to Avoid a Hostage Situation with Facebook

Pay attention, lest you find yourself caught in a catch 22 cyclone of a facebook clusterfuck like I have. Facebook is insisting that I prove my identity (which I’m happy to do) whilst at the same time not allowing me to access my account to submit said proof because my phone is no longer a ‘valid’ phone.

Now the ridiculous part is that this pain in my ass is solely because I linked my phone to my account and then forgot to remove it when I disconnected my phone. In hindsight I know to avoid doing this in every way possible, but now that my account is hosed, I can’t fix it.

Back when I linked my phone, I had no idea that some day I would leave the US for an extended time to move aboard a sailboat. Hell, my husband always said we’d do it some day and I told him he was out of his damn mind. I linked my phone to several accounts as a “back up” so I wouldn’t lose access to my account. Ooooh, those scary scare tactics that are apparently BULL to the SHIT and in my case, way more trouble than they’re worth.

Now I feel like facebook is holding my content hostage because I don’t have a phone.

This all started because some idiot reported my account for having a suspicious name. My full, legal name is Byn Always. Apparently this chapped someone’s hide so much that they had to report my name. (Thanks, you’re a really awesome human being. Please take a moment to feel really proud of yourself and your amazing accomplishments in life. Then, maybe go find a better hobby.)

Oh, well. This happens at least once a year, if not more. I open up my account, log in and am prompted to submit proof of my identity. That I have to actually keep doing this is annoying as hell, I don’t think it should be required at all (FFS, can they not AT LEAST mark my account/name as ‘proven’ already???), but I get the point. Facebook wants to have more value to the people buying advertising. Whatever. Its fine. Or at least it was until this time.

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Facebook: It looks like you’re using a name that doesn’t meet facebook standards. If this is in error, please submit proof of your identification.

Me: Hey, facebook, here is my photo ID. Its my passport, so its super legit. (I submitted it without the extra text, that’s just for my future cover photo if I ever get my account back)

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Facebook: I’m sorry, your email or mobile number is invalid.

Me: Um, okay… how about you verify my email.

Facebook: GREAT! Let me send you an email verification.

Me: Gee, thanks facebook. That’s awesome. I got the email verification, now I’m logging in via the link in my email!

Facebook: It looks like you’re using a name that doesn’t meet facebook standards. If this is in error, please submit proof of your identification.

Me: Hey. Facebook. Here is my PASSPORT.

Facebook: I’m sorry, your email or mobile number is invalid.

Me: SO JUST USE THE EMAIL.

Facebook: I’m sorry, your email or mobile number is invalid.

Me: But you JUST SENT ME AN EMAIL…

Facebook: I’m sorry, your email or mobile number is invalid.

Me: But you just…

Facebook: I’m sorry, your email or mobile number is invalid.

Me: But I don’t HAVE a phone anymore…

Facebook: I’M SORRY YOUR PHONE NUMBER IS INVALID.

Facebook has become like that asshole “Dr. Evil” and the “ZIP IT” conversation.

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After trying to work my way past this frustration a few times, I finally asked my husband if he could do anything from his end (he was on land at the time with unlimited WiFi while I was in the Bahamas on 5GB of data a month.) He tried logging in as me. He tried finding a way around the automated form. He tried submitting a change of phone number. He tried finding any way to contact facebook through any means that would allow “me” to contact someone through my account. Nothing. Nada.

A week went by. I was frustrated and annoyed, but not terribly worried. In this day and age, I’m sure that I will be able to find someone who can help. Patrick found a place to “appeal” if you have been wrongly locked from your account. Only to find out that according to facebook, I’m NOT LOCKED OUT. I *just* have to submit proof of my name. Ahhh… the wonderful age of automated technology.

Two weeks went by. I finally reactivated an old FB account that I had deactivated so that I could communicate with people again. A friend found a place to submit information if you’re “having trouble accessing your facebook account” and another to submit form for help if you’re “having issues with your mobile phone access.” Still, NOTHING worked. It was a constant catch-22. I need to log in to change my phone number, I can’t log in because I have to prove my identity and I can’t do that because the phone number isn’t valid.

THREE WEEKS WENT BY. I’m starting to get more annoyed. Slightly worried that I’ve lost access to so much of my online life for the last SIX YEARS. No, not slightly worried. ACTUALLY worried and getting progressively more pissed off. I submitted a question to the Facebook “Community” and NOTHING. No response. Nothing.

I imagine that I’m not alone in the fact that I post a lot of things on facebook without backing them up anywhere. Yes, I still have my photos backed up on my computer. Or rather, I have them on several computers from our upgrades over the years. The only real place that I have all of my photos “easy” to access and well organized by dates/events is on facebook. The only place I have my daily memories stored, quotes from the kids and conversations with friends is on facebook.

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Other than the fact that I recently screencapped all of my kids QOTD, I would never think to back that kind of thing up.

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The only place I have access to my facebook Pages is through my personal facebook that I now can’t access. Dear Paris, the Tempest Papers was a new page that I’d just started a couple of months ago, so its not the end of the world. I can create a new page to post letters from the cat.

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My family’s cruising page Oh Sail Yes! was started almost exactly a year ago when we took off to go live on a sailboat and we’ve worked diligently to build our social media presence and facebook was a large part of that effort. Now I have very limited access to that page (and only by logging in through my husband’s account, which is a PITA). Plus, I know it sounds silly, but I was really looking forward to reliving this whole crazy adventure from the beginning in those damn “See Your Memories” things on facebook.

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Then we have the wonderful new option of “log in with your facebook” on numerous sites. What happens if you’re locked out of facebook? You’re screwed.

Add to that the fact that not only do I not have a phone, but facebook is the only way I really have to currently communicate with my adult kids back on land (Yes, I could go to the trouble of downloading skype or figuring out something else, but facebook is where they ALREADY ARE).

 

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I’ve also been kicked out of number sailing and cruising groups because if this fiasco (because the mods see an old FB Page with my name and think I have them blocked for nefarious purposes).

I’ve lost contact with several friends that I can’t find online because of their privacy settings. Now that I have reactivated an old account, I’m sure I’ve hurt many people’s feelings when they see that were not friends ‘anymore’ because it will just appear that I unfriended them.

Now in HINDSIGHT, I could have avoided this by taking my phone off of my account when we decided to leave land and deactivate our phones. I could have avoided this by setting up “Trusted Contacts” in my facebook settings… if I had known this option existed (so sue me, I missed the memo). In hindsight, I’m great. I fixed it… in REALITY, I’m STILL SCREWED. And not in a good way. But MAYBE this would have helped. I highly recommend setting this up, although I’m not sure that this would even help me in my particular situation.

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If anyone has any suggestion as to how to work around this enormous, completely unnecessary pain in my ass, please… PLEASE let me know. I’m at a loss.

I actually feel like I need to put more foul language in this post to get my true feelings across, but honestly, I’m just so completely ridiculously upset about it, I can’t even bring myself to throw in an extra ‘fuck’ and THAT should speak volumes. If I’m so upset I can’t swear… well, let’s just say that’s a pretty bloody big fucking deal.

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