Been In The Facebook Jail Lately? – Here’s How To Stay Out Of The Slammer

by Richard Cameron

Have you been tossed in the clink? Spent time in stir? Locked up in the hoosegow? No, I don’t mean a stretch in prison or the county jail – I mean ‘Facebook Jail’.

I myself, have not – but enough of my friends and a few colleagues have, so I decided to try to find out just what was at the bottom of this. Unfortunately in all the digging on the subject, which was considerable – I couldn’t find any Facebook employees that would go rogue, tell us what is going on and a sure fire formula for avoiding FB imprisonment.

In case you’re not familiar with the term, FB Jail is simply (in most cases), a temporary suspension of one’s privilege to post items to their timeline, add new friends and share items and links. But although I wasn’t able to obtain actual internal FB secrets, there is enough information on actions and behaviors that all, to one degree or another, able to land your FB butt in the slam.  So let’s look at some hacks.

Let’s start with the activity that from all accounts, appears to get most folks in trouble with Facebook’s “Community Standards” dragnet – “Spammy Behavior”.

Do I really need to define that for you? I don’t think so, but the overall concept is clear in the abstract, but nebulous when it comes to specifics. The one thing you must bear in mind is that humans are not tracking your FB activities – bots are. Bots, for those not familiar, are algorithms and programs that have been crafted by Facebook to scroll automatically through FB and spot patterns common to spam activity, .

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. If you post the same link or content on too many groups, in too short a time period – you are vulnerable for suspension of your account.

How do you know how frequent is too frequent? You don’t. Facebook won’t disclose the metric. In my own personal experience, as someone who frequently distributes the columns that I have written on the news magazine site I am affiliated with on Facebook (the one you are reading now), I would say that in most cases, you must be posting machine gun style to get dinged.

Even though we don’t know precisely the frequency rate that gets you in trouble – based on my own experience, I think 12 to 15 links an hour should be the max. Beyond that, you are tempting fate.

Next, is a Facebook no-no that is somewhat controversial – the frequency and manner in which people send friend requests.

Some Facebook observers say that there is no connection between this process and Facebook Jail. However, I’ve seen way too many references to it to believe that there isn’t some fire to accompany the smoke. The warning is that if you send out a lot of friend requests to build your stable of FB friends, you are sending requests to people you don’t know, or know well. If the recipient of the request declines or answers the query, “Do you know this individual?”, in the negative, your account can be flagged.

A related offense is too many friend requests in too short a period of time.  Be sensible – do you need to friend 50 people a day? You don’t. Nevertheless, Facebook’s expectation that everyone sending a friend request, know the individual personally, is a bit unreasonable. I participate in a lot of groups where the inhabitants of that group are political junkies, ahem, errrr – ‘Concerned Americans’.  A lot of the friends I have accumulated are people I did not know except from frequent contacts and replies on a thread of a post.

Best advice is to use good judgment and not stretch the concept too thin.

Be careful in using your FB identity / profile to over promote your business. First of all, your profile should be of an individual. “Frankie’s Custom Rods” is NOT a facebook identity. That kind of FB ID – anything that references a business, will eventually get caught by the bots, and people can and do report these. Normally, Facebook will just ask you to rename your profile to your own name – problem solved. Don’t wait for them to tell you.

Are fake Facebook names a problem? Likely not, except you don’t want to be too blatant. People use aliases on FB all the time, but the more obscure, the better. You can create a business page and link to it in a reasonable manner without triggering sanctions.

The next, and (should be) fairly obvious behavior that can get you suspended or even get your account closed, is any of the following. These are from Facebook’s Community Standards:

Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on their:

  • Race,
  • Ethnicity,
  • National origin,
  • Religious affiliation,
  • Sexual orientation,
  • Sex, gender, or gender identity, or
  • Serious disabilities or diseases.

So for example, the reason a particular national leader spends most of his time on Twitter instead of Facebook, is because on Facebook, his account would be suspended permanently for many of the above violations.

I don’t think too many of you have run afoul of that above list. Many have rightfully complained that the Facebook suspension process is lacking needed transparency.  I agree with that totally.

At the very least, it would be reasonable to expect them to provide an explanation of why they suspended you, so that you could either defend yourself if innocent, or adopt conforming behavior to avoid future suspensions. That’s not going to happen. So, to sum up – here are some tips that will keep you out of hot water with the FB “Community Standards” Police:

  • Don’t go overboard with friend requests. Be the Tortoise, not the Hare.
  • Don’t robo-post. Slow down, you’re not responding to a fire.
  • Do – when in doubt, private message someone you plan to send a friend request to, and let them have a chance to respond back. That way they won’t tell FB they don’t know who you are.
  • Do – pace yourself with posts and mix up the content. The bot looks for repetitive patterns.

Finally, despite the rumors that Facebook hates everyone but liberals with a passion, it just isn’t true. If you are political on Facebook, the same formula applies to everyone with regard to their roving spam bots – Right, Left or Center. 

None of the above does anything to alleviate the problem of you having someone who just has it in for you, reporting you frequently and FB taking their complaint at face value.  If you suspect, from negative engagements with them, who this might be, block that individual or un-friend them. They can’t tattle about things they can’t see.

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