“Here’s what we’re hearing from people all over the world: Facebook is shutting down accounts of users who are exhibiting any behavior it finds remotely suspicious. As paradoxical as it sounds, “suspicious” often means just using the site too much! Sometimes they warn people and give them the chance to change their behavior, and sometimes the account termination is sudden and permanent. Most of the time the disabled accounts will be turned back on, whether automatically after a cool-down period, or after prostrating yourself to the FB authorities. But sometimes they’ll lock it up and throw away the key.
Facebook remains intentionally vague about what “bad behavior” looks like, and so it’s no wonder that people get confused, angry or despondent when they get the ACCOUNT DISABLED message. To help people avoid having their accounts disabled, I’ve listed the most common reasons why people report having their accounts abruptly turned off. Keep in mind, that this list is almost surely incomplete, and until Facebook changes their policy to embrace more transparency and two-way communication we’ll have to live with a bit of uncertainty when using Facebook.
Here are the things that (supposedly) will get you kicked off Facebook:
2. You joined too many groups
Remember that the maximum limit is 200 groups per user. More than that just looks desperate, don’t you think?
3. You posted too many messages on a wall or in a group
Even Guy Kawasaki had his account disabled–in his case for “excessive evangelism.”
4. You posted in too many groups, too many user’s walls
You may be axed for being too verbose in too many places. That’s what spammers do, silly. On Facebook it is better–or at least safer–to be seen than heard.
6. Your school/organization affiliation is doubtful
The overlords are sometimes not very trusting, and they may accuse you of not graduating from Harvard (or Plum Senior High School). The impertinence! Better have your diploma ready.
7. You’re poking too many people
We’ve heard this from multiple sources, and it’s easy enough to avoid. Save the pokes for people you *really* like, as mum always said. But beware the odd FB app that pokes on your behalf.
8. For advertising your app on wall posts
The line between spam and self-promotion is a thin one, but let it be known that pimping your shiny new Facebook app is definitely considered SPAM.
9. Using duplicate text in multiple messages
Some people paste a generic welcome message into friend requests to save time. DON’T DO THIS! It makes you look like a spammer. (Ironically, pro spammers are probably randomizing their messages to avoid this trap)
11. You are under eighteen years old
According to one report a user’s account was suspended when they suspected her of being under 18. She was required to enter a work email address to prove her maturity, at which point her account was reinstated. [note: other users have pointed out that being under 18 is fine if you’re part of a High School group, though underage home schoolers have been told to bugger off]
12. You wrote offensive content
Reports of “sudden death” on accounts have been reported by users who were told they had posted offensive content, but were not provided details of the offense.
13. You scraped information off Facebook
They have a zero tolerance policy for page scraping (i.e. pulling content off their web pages via a script). Unfortunately, they don’t have a reliable way of proving it’s you who’s doing the scraping (IP matching is probably as good as they can get), so you may find this a difficult charge to defend yourself against.
Finally, you may be disabled for no clear reason at all. One Australian member reported this staggering experience:
“I was blocked for a little while because I was ‘misusing certain features of the site’ Naturally I closely examined their conditions of use etc for some insight as to what I must have done wrong. I couldn’t for the life of me find anything…
“Upon request for clarification I was told that they were not at liberty to divulge which features or of course any thresholds of use. Then they warned me not to do it again or I would be banned permanently without recourse to reinstatement.”
You have been warned. Remember that the hand of justice is swift and merciless.I’m living in fear. “