Banned from Facebook and Instagram without explanation, screenshots

TL;DR: I was blocked from both Facebook and Instagram permanently. To this day there is no real explanation. The only claims I got from Facebook/Meta for why this happened, are blatantly false. They offer no functional path to request a review. There are two UI paths for this, but both of them are inexplicably broken.

First they claimed I had posted something offensive at 20:51 on December 12th, 2021. Eventually they changed this and now claim the offending post happened at December 18th at 1:15 AM, I had already been completely blocked from their services for more than 4 hours at that time, so I could not have posted anything. I did not post anything at either time; nor are they even disclosing to me what they think I posted, see screenshots below.

Suddenly their SMS verification is broken so I can not login to file a complaint. I get a 2FA code but the UI does not allow entering it. I have three different types of 2FA enabled for Facebook, and none of them are compromised, so I don’t seem to have been hacked either. There seems to be no plausible explanation for this.

On a device where I am still logged in, the button to actually file a complaint is broken, and the JS console reports the server returns a 401 error. They have a form that accepts official ID to verify one’s identity; this form too refuses to submit my data.

This whole process is quite a demonstration of how Kafkaesque bureaucracy can become when left unchecked. Subjects are given no justifications for decisions. The process appears to offer options to create a façade of fair treatment. The options eventually turn out to be false, and on top of that the entire process changes its behaviour erratically, leaving users potentially desperate for their data in a limbo of trying and retrying if they’re lucky on any given day.

After having gone through this I finally realize the extent of power giants like Facebook wield over societies. They have become de facto communication platforms, and can make or break businesses who are not prepared. This really can happen to you too; don’t rely on solely Meta/Facebook on your marketing strategy! Even if you have actually been a paying advertiser on the platform, this changes nothing, you’re still the product.


Business pages still up:

No warning notice, I got banned instantly and permanently from both Facebook and Instagram, which I use for marketing as an ISV and a coach.

The whole process seems horribly broken.

Detailed story

On Friday night at around 9pm Finnish time (UTC+2) I was on my laptop. I switched to Facebook tab and it suddenly told me I had activity on facebook that goes against community guidelines.

I hadn’t posted anything this week, except as instagram stories that get synced to my coaching page, which hasn’t been closed. I don’t think I post anything very controversial, related to covid or otherwise.

When trying to log back in on my PC, the SMS verification failed. They sent me and I received a SMS verification code but the web ui still said sending the code failed so I couldn’t enter the code. After trying a couple of times, they say I’ve tried too many times and there is a delay of 24h. Even after the 24h passed, I still get this.

Every time I enter now on my cell phone (which is already logged in), I get this screen that claims to show the violating content I have posted, except the photo grid only shows blank grey rectangles.

In the first screen I saw (screenshot in above url) they asked me to push a big blue button to indicate I disagree with the decision. Pressing the “Continue” button gives a grey spinner and does nothing.

By Saturday, the time at which they claim I posted those violating images had changed. Originally it was 8:51pm on Friday night. Now they said it was 1:51 am Saturday morning, by which time the account had already been suspended for several hours and I couldn’t have posted anything.

Accessing on my cell phone I managed to get the instagram verification process started. That too led nowhere eventually.

Just now I found another form where I could give my userid/phone number and a scanned photo of personal ID.

I’m not sure I feel comfortable sharing all the sensitive info on it. Eventually it turns out it’s okay to physically cover sensitive parts of the ID. However, eventually the form refuses to submit my data to Facebook for no reason.

Later in January

On January 19th, I had already lost hope but opened the app for some reason. I now discovered that the Facebook app SMS verification worked all of the sudden. Now they also allowed me to upload my ID and said it should not take more than a day. After this I received an email in around 15 minutes with the subject line “Thank you for submitting your ID”. So I assumed this was automated and didn’t open the email.

Later the same day I opened the email and discovered that it contained this sentence:

We can’t give you access to this account or help with your request until we receive an accepted form of ID that matches the information listed on the account. Learn more about the types of ID we accept in the Help Center:

The Facebook Team

I was not quite certain if this meant that even the latest official ID I’d sent had been ignored. Of course I wouldn’t know why since it contained the birthdate & name of my profile with my photo. So I wasn’t sure what to do.

On Jan 20th, I thought I’d upload another official ID, but now they told me they’d permanently closed my account since too much time had passed, so I couldn’t try that anymore.

Finnish: Account disabled permanently, initial decision never reviewed

My business pages are still up, but I have no way of administering them.

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