How Facebook Stole Christmas From Under My Nose
The top 3 lessons I learned to avoid getting banned on Facebook
I'm single and living alone with my cat, hence I spent last Christmas at home under lockdown. I had planned for a Social Media Christmas, however, everything went sideways when Facebook banned me.
I believed social media could save Christmas, and virtual friendship would prevail against the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, so I stayed home writing and sharing thoughts and season greetings during Christmas Eve.
— I was wrong, Facebook, unintentionally, ruined Christmas!
How the Social Media Grinch stole Christmas
Everything was going fine until it was about time to sit down and have my lonesome Christmas Eve dinner. I published a Christmas short-story and shared it with my friends via social media.
My point about this story was to celebrate friendship and show the world how you could keep the Christmas spirit alive even confined to the four walls of your home. As we know: “home is where the heart is.” Thus, being far, far away was the ultimate gesture of love to the ones I love.
‘Be it ever so heinous; there’s no place like home.’¹
I wrote my story as a virtual Christmas postcard to my friends, and the plan was to send it out to that guild of extraordinary people worldwide.
I've been an ex-pat for a significant part of my adult life. Hence, I have friends scattered worldwide with whom I keep in touch, mainly via Facebook groups.
‘Maybe Christmas (he thought) doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.’¹
Until that moment, Facebook groups were my platform of choice for keeping in touch with everyone. So I was happily sending out my Christmas postcard story with a Merry Christmas message to my friends and sharing it on my preferred ex-pats groups, when suddenly.
— The Grinch stole Christmas!
The poisoned gift
Out of nowhere, I get a poisoned gift from the Grinch wrapped in a blunt notification:
You have been restricted from accessing some Facebook features, in layman terms, which meant that my plan for publishing Christmas postcards went down the drain.
The Grinch algorithm red-flagged my account and sent me off to bed early after sitting at a lonely table looking at my cellphone camera while projecting the screen on my TV.
— No Christmas gifts for you little Rui, you’ve been a bad boy! Said the Grinch.
The Grinch rules
Before going to bed, little stubborn Rui went back to his mischief and studied all about the rules supporting the Grinch masterplan to hijack Christmas:
«I’m blocked from doing something on Facebook, like posting, sharing, or commenting. We may block people from doing something on Facebook when:
Something you posted or shared seems suspicious or abusive to our security systems. [Hmmm… a Christmas story should not compromise the Grinch state-of-the-art security systems.]
Messages or friend requests you sent were marked unwelcome. [Well, if a friend marked my season greetings as “unwelcome,” then good riddance!]
You’ve done something that doesn’t follow our Community Standards. [Maybe the Grinch got me here. Merry Christmas is quite unstandardized.]
The length of a block depends on the severity of the violation and your history on Facebook. [I checked the registry, and my record is spotless. Maybe I wasn’t such a bad boy in 2020 after all.]»
A full week doesn’t seem too bad; it’s only from Christmas to New Year’s Eve. It’s not like this is the best week of the year. And a time to get in touch with family and friends.
How to prevent a ban or locked account
«To avoid blocks like this in the future, you can:
Follow Facebook Guidelines
Review our Community Standards to understand what kind of sharing is allowed on Facebook. [Checked!]
Don’t look at your overall audience as personal friends
Only message people you already know. I seldom use the Grinch messenger at all. [Checked!]
Don’t over-promote yourself
Only send friend requests to people you know. I rarely send friend requests and never to strangers! Is that even a thing? [Checked!]»
We understand that you may have had good intentions or may have not known about our policies on acceptable behavior, and we also understand that this block can be frustrating.
Dear Grinch, I know how the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Thus, I will not rant about not learning about your policies or acceptable behavior; Thanks for understanding; you meant well, I know.
Hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works!
To help keep Facebook open and welcoming, we try to prevent people from unintentionally misusing Facebook, even if you felt that what you did was acceptable.
I can’t feel what’s acceptable or not; that’s out of my reach for now because you have made it clear that wishing Merry Christmas and bringing joy to the world is unacceptable.
Having gone through the Grinch’s policies and learning nothing about the problem or how to fix it, I filed an appeal.
Well, I knew this wouldn’t get me anywhere, but I tried. Even if the Grinch grants the right to an appeal, it also states how he cannot remove a penalty early, so what’s the point?
— The Grinch locks you up and throws away the key, but says to you: by all means, be my guest and appeal!
Please follow the guidelines and don’t misbehave, or the Grinch will come and steal Christmas from you.
I don't want you to become an outcast, the evildoer pariah that would spoil Christmas Eve by wishing Merry Christmas and attaching the link to a Christmas story.
Merry Christmas, dear Grinch
Finally, my dear Grinch, I say to you. Thanks for stealing Christmas. I've learned my lesson:
- Follow Facebook Guidelines;
- Don’t look at your overall audience as personal friends;
- Don’t over-promote yourself.
Don’t worry; you’ll never get the chance to do it again. Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never break me. Words are my witchcraft.
— Right now I could use a little social interaction.¹
1. Quotes from the 2000 live-action film How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Thanks for reading this article and crossing the labyrinth with me. Please feel free to come back at any time and pick up another thread from my Vocal book of content. Till next time, cheers!