06 May 2010

My Mom Is NOT a Porn Addict

Facebook's QA Team
I generally don't write about family stuff here but this time I got permission.

My mom joined Facebook yesterday - at least she tried to.  Folks have been telling her she should join because she has a local business, and she likes seeing the pictures that other family members post there.  So she went through the steps, and started building a profile - name, hometown, interests.  She uploaded a handful of pictures she took, all rated G. (Not even one breastfeeding pic.  We all know they're sensitive about that.) She followed the automated steps and sent out a couple of friend requests.

Then she got that all-too-familiar email:
Your account was disabled because it was in violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Nudity, sexually explicit, and other graphic content is not permitted on Facebook, nor is any content that contains self harm, depicts violence, or attacks an individual or group. In addition, harassing others through unsolicited friend requests or messages is prohibited.

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to reactivate your account or respond to your email directly. This decision is final and cannot be appealed.  You can visit the Warnings section of the Help Center for more information: 

That was it.  Account terminated, no appeal.  Ciao, bella.  Not sure whether Facebook will claim ownership of the half-dozen pictures or demographic information she entered.
It's obvious Facebook made a fairly innocent mistake here.   But this is just the latest indication that Facebook has reached "too big to fail" status and quality control has slipped.  They just don't have the resources to properly evaluate and review disputes because they're much too busy converting your personal information into marketing profiles for companies. 

It's not a new concern.  Let me put it this way - when the Attorney General of New York calls and says you better do something about sexual predators on your network, you don't ignore him to the point where he has to issue a subpoena.   I'm sure those couple dozen messages just "fell through the cracks."

It's also clear that they're leveraging this new status to make it more complicated for people to protect their information.  They've taken "opt-out" to the next level - so far that members of Congress are again planning to regulate them more strictly.

But here is Facebook's conundrum: it requires significant resources to do real quality control and pay real attention to settling disputes when your network is 8.2 gazillion people.  What little resources the company actually has are mainly dedicated to serving advertisers.  If they move to an opt-in system, they know they will lose all sorts of information and value for advertisers and won't make as much money.  If they do real quality control and have human analysis for everyday disputes, they'll spend a lot more money.  "Less money in, more money out" isn't the best business model.  And asking subscribers to pay to make up some of the difference?  Ask the folks at Ning how that's going.

UPDATE: got this from a pal who works at NIH...

@dwescott1 for some reason your blog is being blocked by NIH's firewall.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck




Geez, you use the word "porn" in a blog post title ONE TIME...

UPDATE 2:  turns out NIH was blocking all blogspot URL's for some reason.  Susan was right.  Apparently I'm not that much of a rebel...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One time my Facebook account was blocked without warning too but emailing them a letter solved it. There's a large number of people who aren't so lucky, but it is sometimes possible to navigate through the labyrinth and figure it out. I think Facebook isn't doing a great job with security and especially privacy lately, but with DirtyPhoneBook and other sites out there already exposing peoples personal information, I think that maybe privacy isn't as big a deal online anymore because its destruction is sort of inevitable.