Can you get banned from Facebook forever? The answer is most certainly “yes.”
Jason Birch found this out the hard way. The social media giant won’t tell him why he’s permanently banished, but Birch thinks he knows where he went wrong. He says he’s learned from his “little” mistake and would like Facebook to lift the ban and accept his apology. And he’s not prepared to take no for an answer.
But is there any way back into the Facebook community after you’ve been banned?
We know from the plethora of requests for help that Consumer Rescue receives each week about locked accounts that Facebook is more willing than ever to ban users who don’t follow their rules.
These former Facebookers who contact our team all want the same thing: to reclaim their accounts and return to the popular virtual community. Unfortunately for them, this goal may be impossible. So it’s crucial that users acquaint themselves with Facebook’s community standards — before they end up on the outside looking in. Because, as we know, no one is immune to a Facebook banishment — not even a former President of the United States.
Table of contents
- Fact: Facebook Messenger is not private.
- The Facebook Team: “You’re ineligible to use Facebook.”
- If your Facebook account is disabled, there is no appeal process
- Fact: You aren’t a customer of Facebook.
- “Am I really banned from Facebook forever?”
- Facebook: “Your account is permanently disabled.”
- 8 ways to get banned from Facebook
- Remember to keep in mind what Facebook is and what it isn’t
Fact: Facebook Messenger is not private.
Jason says that his unexpected Facebook troubles began one evening when he was using Facebook Messenger.
“After a concert, I logged onto Facebook and was talking to a friend,” Jason recalled. “I was on my laptop, and I accidentally sent a partial nude photo. A few minutes later, I received an alert that Facebook blocked me.”
From that moment last summer, Jason has been on an aggressive crusade to get his Facebook account reactivated.
He has sent numerous emails to the Facebook team asking, then begging, them to forgive him and reactivate his account. He insists that uploading the “partial nude” was a mistake and he thought Facebook Messenger was private.
FYI: No, Facebook Messenger isn’t private. Nothing on Facebook is private.
“I sent this photo through a private Facebook message. I did not post it on Facebook,” Jason pleaded. “The Facebook scanner detected it was inappropriate. I was banned from Facebook immediately. Please, I just want my account back.”
The Facebook Team: “You’re ineligible to use Facebook.”
Throughout the next several months, Jason continued to send a steady stream of emails to the Facebook team.
I don’t use Facebook for porn. All I use it for is to keep in contact with friends and family. I’ve had this account since my teen years and want to get all my photos and memories back. I also have several family members that I can only get in contact with through Facebook. This has been such a stressful five months. It was an accident, and it won’t happen again. I never meant to send that photo. I miss my family and friends on Facebook. Please unblock my account.
The Facebook Team did not respond in the way Jason hoped.
Although initially, Jason’s paper trail shows what appears to be auto-generated responses to his pleas, Facebook soon sent a definitive answer.
We’ve determined that you are ineligible to use Facebook. To learn more about Facebook’s policies, please review the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
Unfortunately, for safety and security reasons, we can’t provide additional information as to why your account was disabled. We appreciate your understanding, as this decision is final. (Facebook team)The Facebook team
If your Facebook account is disabled, there is no appeal process
But Jason was anything but “understanding” about this decision.
What kind of %#*& customer service is this that it takes over five months to even try to get ahold of a real human being to help with a problem!!!!
This is horrible.
Not knowing where else to turn, he sent his request for help to our advocacy team.
When I received Jason’s request for help, I reviewed his giant paper trail. Unfortunately, I knew that his case was likely one that we could not successfully advocate.
Although we receive many requests for help concerning banned Facebook accounts, our track record for resolving these cases is zero.
In fact, Facebook, like other giant companies such as Amazon and eBay, typically ignores these types of inquiries from our team.
It would seem that after Facebook takes the drastic step of making a user’s account disabled, there is little to no appeal process.
Fact: You aren’t a customer of Facebook.
And the unique nature of Facebook makes this type of case impossible to mediate.
- Facebook is a free service. Users are not customers. And although Jason was outraged by the “terrible customer service” he received from Facebook, he shouldn’t have been. Facebook provides an online social community free of charge to the user. The Facebook Team is not a “customer service team,” and users should not expect the type of personalized attention a complaint would receive from a company of which they are actually paying customers.
- When you sign up with Facebook, you agree to its terms and conditions. If you violate any of those terms, you can get banned — with no clear-cut methods of appealing the decision.
- Facebook doesn’t owe you an account. There are no current laws that require Facebook to allow anyone to participate.
So there is very little on which our team could base a mediation attempt over a banned Facebook account. And unfortunately, by Jason’s own admission, he had violated one of Facebook’s terms and conditions — one that could lead to an account being disabled.
But I sent Jason’s case over to the Facebook Team and asked them if they could review it. Based on his lengthy paper trail, it was clear that this banishment was consuming his time and attention. I thought if Facebook could give him a response that left no room for interpretation — that he was, in fact, banned forever — he might be able to move on without the social media giant.
As I expected, several weeks went by, and all I received from the Facebook Team was an assurance that they would get back to me soon.
“Am I really banned from Facebook forever?“
In the meantime, having not read my article about the best way to approach a consumer problem, Jason’s self-advocacy mission went off the rails. He bombarded Facebook with more requests to have the ban lifted. Inexplicably, he even sent the “partial nude” photo he thought got him banned back to Facebook to tell the team he learned a lesson.
Dec 20: I am rather upset that Facebook disabled my account for this long for an accidental partial nude photo! I just talked to one of my friends and she said she had received [frontal nudity pictures] through Facebook and nothing happened to the other person’s account!! So why on earth did Facebook disable mine, for one, an artistic photo, and two an accidental click/upload on it?!
Dec 25: Can someone unlock my account? It’s Christmas. Facebook has punished me for far too long.
Dec 28: Please someone, how long until I get my account back?
Jan 2: Well, happy new year. Can someone on the Facebook team help me get my account back, please? All this over an accidental photo. It’s rather upsetting.
Jan 6: Why are you guys refusing to help me?! I feel like I’m being discriminated against as a gay man who made a mistake!
Then Jason sent additional letters to Mark Zuckerberg and other executives at Facebook. Not surprisingly, he didn’t receive a response to those messages.
Facebook: “Your account is permanently disabled.”
Finally, Jason did receive a crystal clear message from a first-name-only Facebook team member. “Maxie” sent what should have provided the closure Jason needed — his Facebook ban is permanent.
Your account has been permanently disabled for not following the Facebook Community Standards.
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to reactivate [your Facebook account] for any reason.
This will be our last email regarding your account. For more information about our policies, please review the Facebook Community Standards.The Facebook team
However, Jason still wasn’t willing to give up. When I suggested to Jason that it was time to let this battle go and forget about his disabled Facebook account, he told me he would not give up — ever.
He insists that he’s not going to stop trying to get his Facebook life back.
8 ways to get banned from Facebook
Facebook’s Community Standards page is where users can learn how to stay a Facebook member in good standing.
Beyond the obvious ways to get banned from Facebook, there are a variety of more subtle things that we know can end in the disabling of a user account:
- Using a Fake name: Although it’s not uncommon to see Facebook accounts in nicknames or self-created monikers, this is something that can get an account banned. Using a name other than the name you use in your “everyday life” is a violation of Facebook’s terms and conditions. And while it’s not likely that Facebook will banish a user for using a “Rated-G” name other than their legal one, it’s important to keep in mind if someone reports you for some other violation and it’s clear that you’re not using your own name, that will give the social media giant another reason to expel you.
- Creating multiple Facebook accounts: If you create more than one Facebook account, you might suddenly find yourself with zero. Facebook allows just one account per person. (Note: Users may have a personal Facebook account and a Facebook page which is usually associated with the user’s business.)
- “Friending” too many people in a short period: Facebook is always scanning for fake accounts. If your account mimics the patterns of a fake account, you could get banned right along with the phony ones. Friending large numbers of people in a short period can end with your account being shut down. Keep in mind that Facebook’s terms and conditions note that you should only friend people you “know personally and trust.” Note: If you want to regularly receive someone’s Facebook posts in your regular feed (like a well-known public figure) you should use the “follow” feature rather than requesting to be friends.
- Liking too many things in quick succession: Fake accounts often click on many things quickly and unnaturally. If you “like” tons of posts at a rapid pace, the Facebook algorithm may assume you are a computer bot and disable your account. Typically, a user will receive a warning and/or a temporary pause in their ability to click the like button before their account is formally banned.
- Posting spammy-type posts: No one likes spam in their newsfeed. If you’re posting it, you’re at risk of having your account flagged.
- Posting fake news/ untrue information: We all have friends who repost alerts and memes that contain urban legends or completely untrue information. This behavior can also lead to a Facebook account getting disabled. All Facebook users should fact-check before resharing any posts.
- Posting offensive photos or memes: Remember, this also includes posting things through Facebook Messenger. As we’ve seen in this case, the same rules that apply to your public Facebook page apply to anything you send via messenger as well. Facebook monitors it all.
- Violating the intellectual property rights of others: In a recent update to the community standards of Facebook, the company says that all users must be careful not to violate the intellectual property rights of others. That means making sure that you have permission to share whatever content you post and give attribution to the creator of the content. If you post videos to Facebook, make certain that you are legally allowed to broadcast any music that is attached to the video. If you post articles, memes, or reposts, be sure to give credit to the author, or you could find yourself in Facebook jail or even in legal trouble.
How to get your disabled Facebook account back
Fact: There is no law or regulation that requires Facebook to provide anyone with an account. If Meta determines that you’ve violated its terms and conditions and your account gets disabled, you will also likely get banned from Instagram and Whatsapp as well.
But there are a few steps you can try that may lead to you being welcomed back onto those social media platforms.
Note: This guidance doesn’t apply to accounts that have been banned by Facebook because of actual violations of its policies. If you have violated Meta’s community rules, you’ll won’t be getting your account back any time soon.
However, we have seen an increased volume of requests for help from bewildered former Facebook users who say that they’ve reviewed all the guidelines and are confident that they haven’t violated any rules. It appears that an AI algorithm may be falsely banning some people from Facebook.
Here’s what to do if you’ve found your Facebook account disabled
Carefully review the terms and conditions of Use
Before you begin a battle to get your Facebook account back, you must review the terms and conditions of the company (community guidelines). You’ll want to ensure that you aren’t violating any rules. If you do manage to get a manual (human reviewer) to look at your appeal, you will want to make it clear that you understand the problem and how you intend to correct it. (For example, if you’ve been attempting to friend tons of strangers or if you’ve been instant messaging people you don’t really know).
Report a hacked Facebook account
Many of the people who contact us believe that the Facebook ban is the result of someone hacking into their account and posting and doing things that violate Meta’s policies. Here is the Facebook form to use if you believe a hacker has taken over your account. This form can be used without signing into Facebook.
Also, remember, if someone has hacked your account and changed the email address associated with your account, you can reverse this change. Facebook always emails users when the primary email address on an account is altered. That email provides a link that will restore your account. You must change your password once your account is returned to you. Note: Always review the address field of any email you’ve received and make sure it is coming from Facebook before clicking on any links inside.
Make an appeal to Facebook about your disabled account
The initial banning of a Facebook account is typically done automatically (not by a human reviewer). If you believe that your account was disabled in error, use this form to appeal Facebook’s decision to disable your account. This may result in a human review of your Facebook account.
Escalate your complaint
Because we receive so many requests for help about banned Facebook accounts, our researcher, Meera, has spent a great deal of time searching for someone at Facebook who will respond to the complaints we receive about closed social media accounts. You can contact Meera directly, and she will provide you with the latest executive contact we have found to be (sometimes) helpful for users who have had their Facebook accounts banned by mistake.
Some former Facebook users who contact us ask if they can file a class action lawsuit or hire a lawyer to get their accounts back. The answer is not unless you want to waste time and money on something you cannot win. Meta doesn’t owe anyone a free account on their social platforms — but an attorney might gladly take your cash to give the case a try … if you’re willing to pay.
Remember to keep in mind what Facebook is and what it isn’t
- Facebook is not a photo storage service.
Don’t rely on Facebook to store your memories — it isn’t Shutterfly! Facebook makes no guarantees that it is safely storing your photos on its site. And if you should find your account disabled, as Birch and others have, you won’t be able to get your photos back. Without fail, the consumers who have contacted us about banned Facebook accounts are most disturbed by the loss of their pictures. So you can avoid finding yourself in this situation, make sure that you’ve backed up your photos outside of the Facebook platform.
- Facebook is not your Rolodex.
Don’t rely on Facebook to store your personal contacts. Birch, like others, complained that he lost touch with friends and family after Facebook disabled his account. Make sure to keep the contact information of treasured friends and family stored offline. Having no way outside of a virtual community to reach a valued “friend” is always a mistake.
- Facebook is not Amazon. Be careful shopping there.
Many consumers contact our team after ordering products from an ad they’ve seen on Facebook or when a Marketplace transaction has gone wrong. Shopping on Facebook is not the same as shopping on Amazon. Keep in mind, the lack of customer service provided by Facebook should you decide to go shopping there. You’ll want to research the merchant and ensure it’s reputable before handing over your credit card. And NEVER use Zelle to send money to a stranger on Facebook Marketplace. Remember, Zelle is only meant to send cash to people you know personally. Unfortunately, based on the complaints hitting our helpline, the Facebook Marketplace has become a prime hunting ground for scammers who identify Zelle as their preferred payment method.
- The Consumer Rescue team can’t get your Facebook account back.
If you want to remain a member of the Facebook community, it’s best to acquaint yourself with all the rules outlined by the social media giant. Because once Facebook has disabled your account for violating any of those rules, not even the Consumer Rescue team can get it back. (Michelle Couch-Friedman, Consumer Rescue)