Editor’s note: Dan is a Fort St. John resident who sent in the opinion piece to Energeticcity.ca.
I want to tell people a little story about my journey with Facebook and how they betrayed my trust and have lost a loyal user.
Like many people back in 2007, I noticed this thing called Facebook. It seemed like a great way to keep up with friends and family, so I created an account (note that date as it is important to my story and also that at the time, I was 34 years old).
At first, it was fun to be able to see pictures of friends and family from near and far, what a small in touch world we had created. I connected with cousins on the other side of Canada and many dear old friends that had moved far away were now close and we could chat and share our experiences through photos and dialogue whenever we wanted.
I also quickly noticed the dark side of Facebook, where a disagreement turned into large rants and the term “unfriend” came into our lexicon of commonly used jargon. I naturally love to debate and argue with my friends and unfortunately got sucked into many of these toxic Facebook debates. I decided at some point that it was not worth it, I valued these friendships and relationships, so I tried very hard not to argue on social media, instead of asking that we talk about our disagreements in person next time we got together (funny how that makes many arguments go away). I was in a happy place with Facebook, just using it for what it should be used for, sharing pictures of my young family with friends and relatives.
My mother even joined Facebook and loved to scroll through all of my pictures. She would like them and save them or comment about something she found particularly funny or cute. Whenever I took the kids out on a grand backcountry adventure, I would post about our “Webster Family Adventure # 2344”. Many people enjoyed this, and my elderly relatives felt more a part of our lives by sharing in these pictures and the story of our adventures. It also made a great photo album of our lives that we could look back on and have a smile or a laugh.
As the president of my local bike club, I was able to use Facebook as a platform to promote the club and encourage riders young and old to get out and enjoy our great cycling community. I also had a page to promote my business, a small environmental consulting company, through interesting posts on local wildlife, environmental information, and upcoming professional development opportunities in the community. I felt like I was a responsible user, not getting in trouble, not bullying anyone and generally adding to the experience of other users on Facebook.
Then in January of 2015 my oldest son contracted Type 1 diabetes and nearly died from diabetic ketoacidosis. This was a difficult time for my family and with my wife and I in Edmonton at his bedside I was able to provide updates to my other children, family, and friends on how he was doing. Later that year I entered Tough Mudder to raise money for Type 1 diabetes research and appealed to friends and family to donate on Facebook. The next year I joined up with JDRF, a charity dedicated to finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes and we ended up starting our own charity bike ride, the Tour of the Peace. With a Facebook page, I was able to promote the ride and raise money towards diabetes research. I guess you can say that I was able to use Facebook as a tool to improve not only my own life but the lives of people in my community.
I had many discussions with people about Facebook as many people refused to be on it or had deleted their accounts due to the negativity that hounded social media. I told them, do not get hooked into that, use it for what it is meant for, a form of communication. So I made it my mission to post jokes and funny things, along with the pictures of my family’s adventures, generally keeping things positive.
2020 was a difficult year for everyone, including me and my family. I found myself posting less, as there just was not that much to be happy about. We were having a particularly difficult time in November but got through it then, on Dec 2, 2020, I received a message from Facebook that they needed to confirm my identity so I had to upload a picture of my photo ID to confirm my name and age and could not logon until they had reviewed it (if you did the math, I am now 47 years old and had been on Facebook for thirteen years). Well I don’t know about you, but in this day and age when someone wants me to upload my legal government ID, I get a little concerned that maybe I’m getting scammed… I researched it and found that it was a thing Facebook could and did ask for, although not often and there was very little information regarding it. After humming and hawing about it I decided I really did not want them to have my driver’s licence, so I would upload a picture of my Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) as it was a government-issued photo ID and had my date of birth on it, but I still covered the PAL number as that was none of their business. The result, nothing. Every time I went to log in, I got the message:
“We Received Your Information
“If we still find that you’re not old enough to be on Facebook, your account will remain disabled. This is because your account doesn’t follow our Terms of Service.
“We’re always looking out for the security of people on Facebook, so until then you can’t use your account.”
Ok, well according to online forums they would review things and then within a month or two my account would be unlocked. So I sat back and relaxed, it was actually a bit of a relief as what I hadn’t realized about Facebook is how much time I wasted on it, checking it first thing in the morning, checking it at night before I went to bed. This was a much-needed break. The funny thing in that above message is that they don’t think I am old enough to be on Facebook, as you have to be at least 13 years old, however, I had been on Facebook for thirteen years, so much for intelligent algorithms… Then on February 2, 2021, I got a message saying that I had 1 day left to request a review and after that my account would be permanently disabled. What??? I scoured the online forums and tried to find a way to fix this. I found a form you could request a review at, but the link was broken. When I did find it, it would not let me upload any information, basically saying that they had already tried and convicted me of breaking Facebook’s Community Standards. Sentenced to a life free from Facebook, which perhaps given the coldness of their betrayal is for the best.
So here I sit, writing this, my account has been permanently disabled (as far as I know), there is not a phone number, email or physical person I can talk to about this problem. Sure, Facebook would have you believe there is a process to follow, but my story should warn the reader that this process is imperfect, and you are most likely to be left hung out to dry. I guess I’ll have to let the people in my bike club know that I won’t be providing updates anymore on local cycling events. I can’t promote my small business on Facebook. I won’t be able to garner donations for my charity bike ride through Facebook in the future.
But you know what, I have found I have more time on my hands, so maybe I’ll just go call my cousin or drop a letter to my friend, or just go ride my bike. You know what Facebook, in your drive to become a big, cold corporation that shuts out valid users like me with no recourse in the name of security, you are losing a good friend. So I’ll beat you to the punch, Facebook, I officially “unfriend” you.