Thumbs down to Facebook

During the Christmas break in 2020, while we were in lockdown, I got kicked off Facebook and was told by the FB bots that I had contravened community guidelines and would never be allowed a Facebook account EVER AGAIN!

They never said what had been posted that had caused such egregious offence to warrant this action by them and I was wracking my brains to think what I’d done or what I could do to fix things.

I searched online like a mad thing trying to see if others had experienced something similar, and to learn what they might have done to get their accounts back. 

It wasn’t good news.

The robots that run Facebook…

It seems that unless you’re someone who spends millions advertising with Facebook and have some kind of special relationship or influence with them you absolutley cannot get hold of a human to talk to. There is zero customer service other than AI and robots.

 While you have a right to access and download the data that you’ve shared on Facebook, you don’t have any other rights on their platform. The fact that you might have made Facebook the home for your business, that you’ve spent money with them paying for Facebook Ads for years or you’ve spent years nurturing and building a following of friends and subscribers simply doesn’t matter.

It’s their platform. They decide who can or can’t use it.

 If the bots say no, you’re done for and you can’t get your account back!

End of story.

Facebook account hacked and lost

I was, however, able to download all my info from Facebook. It was quite unnerving to see how much data they have on us and our habits – particularly our buying habits, which, according to this article, is only a small portion of what they actually know about us.

And then, while I was looking through all the folders from my Facebook life, I came across one called ‘Logins’, and discovered other sign-ins to my account from other locations than where I was living during the lockdown. So I am assuming I lost my account because some nefarious individual(s) hacked my account and posted content that got me banned. 

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!  

Angry swearing emoji

Imagine how the world might be if all these wilfully destructive people put their obvious skills to work in service to others rather than service to self! The world would be a different place.

What a waste! 

For a while I felt shocked and bereft. I’d lost ten + years building business and personal connections. I was really sad to lose touch so suddenly like that from all my friends. 

On top of the frustration at losing my main business platform it was interesting to notice old painful school-age feelings surfacing; back to being an outsider of the social scene and wanting so much to be included. Fortunately, that passed pretty quickly; strange to find those feelings still inside though.

And yet, while all those things were coming up, and on the surface things appeared bleak, I was also aware of feeling so much cleaner and lighter.

All the data collection they do to build their AI power to control our perception, behaviours and culture I find really disconcerting, and the censorship to free speech that Facebook, Twitter, Google and the other social media platforms were collaborating over felt awful. So on one level I was happy that the universe had decided to unplug me from it, even if I’d not chosen to do it myself.

Because I didn’t really use any other social media platforms I found myself strangley free from the online world. 

Break free

This all coincided with having recently moved back up north, where my parents and some good friends still lived. So I had a complete step back from the online world and started having much more time with people I cared about IN REAL LIFE.

I went walking out in nature most days and did a lot of gardening because there was nowhere else to go during lockdown, and it made me acutely aware of just how important connecting with each other, to ourselves and to the land/Mother Earth it is for us to be balanced, happy humans – and how much more disconnected I had been than I’d realised.

Seeing loved ones on Zoom or speaking to them on the phone is lovely, and I was so glad that I could stay connected with friends and family around the world during that time, but there’s nothing like being in the same shared space.

If there’s one silver lining to the lockdown it’s that so many other people have also realised just how important and valuable real face-to-face human connection is, and that our busy lives, work and online lifestyles gradually made us forget this.

It reminds me of the anecdotal parable about boiling a frog, in which a frog placed in boiling water will immediately try to save itself and jump out of danger, but one placed in cool water that is gradually brought to a boil will not notice the heat until it is boiled to death.

We have collectively been seduced by the wonders of technology that created the online space, and while it has so many amazing benefits, over time we can clearly see the negative impact on our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing, especially on the younger generation, but still we cling onto it.

 

Boiling a frog

Tiptoeing my way back onto social media

My break from being online felt very healing, gave me a new perspective and greater awareness about how it impacts my energy and wellbeing. I’m much more mindful now of when I’ve had enough screen time, when I’ve been sitting at my computer long enough and need to move my body, and I’m really aware of the ‘shoulds’ that pull me to be more present on social media these days.

So it is with mixed feelings, but I have succumbed to the pull!

When I started facilitating workshops at festivals over the summer I needed a way for people to connect with me. I still had an Instagram account, so I started using that since I didn’t have Facebook. So do please connect with me there if you haven’t already.

Instagram @cathycballard

But when I launched ‘Bloom’, my new women’s circle that I run in Wilmslow, Cheshire, I really felt the loss of Facebook because I couldn’t reach where local people were hanging out online, so started to wonder how I might get a new account.

From what I’d read when I first lost my account, it seems that anyone banned from Facebook would have to jump through a lot of hoops if they wanted to start a new account. For the initial set-up process you need a different email address, a different linked phone number than before, a different device and a different IP address than any you had used with your old account.

It was just as I was pondering how to do this that a good friend offered to help me set one up, which she’d done for her clients in the past.

It worked. So I now have a shiny new Facebook account!

 

Facebook – Cathy Ballard Transformational Coaching

It feels a little precarious, because if their tech connects me to my old account then I might lose it again, but I’m not going to let that stop me showing up in the meantime.

You wouldn’t believe how much FB has changed in 18 months! I feel like a newbie who knows nothing again. But, like before, I’ll work it out, and it should be a bit easier this time around!

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook. If I know you already and you send me a friend request I will accept it, but there do seem to be a lot of people I don’t know who all seem to be marketers trying to sell me stuff. I’d rather just make genuine connections, so if we haven’t connected before, please send me a message to say hi, and we can connect from there. 

It seems that a lot of people have had experiences with hacking or false accounts and stolen identities on Facebook. Since I set up my new account and started sending friend requests, so many friends emailed or WhatsApped me back to ask if it was really me, which is the sad truth of how things are, but it’s good that more people are aware and taking care of themselves.

So my message is, stay safe and protect yourself online, because what happened to me could happen to anyone. 

At the very least, if you don’t have a strong enough password on your most important accounts, change them. Don’t use the same password for all your accounts, and consider using a service like Lastpass which is an encrypted vault for all your online passwords and can automatically create strong ones for you and fill them in for you when you go to login to a site. The basic version is free and has lots of functionality.

If you’ve experienced your own social media security problems I’d love to hear what happened, how you managed the situation and what you took away from it, so do let me know in the comments below.

And if you haven’t, then I’m really glad and I hope you continue to stay safe and happy online.

Until next time,
Take care!

Lots of love,

Cathy x