Facebook Banned Me! Worst. Week. Ever.

Last week was my worst week ever. Okay, maybe not ever, but definitely my worst week in 2008.

The trouble started on a Tuesday night. Shortly before I entered a bar to meet a friend for drinks, I updated my Facebook status on my BlackBerry, with an opinion about the upcoming Clinton-Obama debate.

As soon as my friend and I parted ways, I immediately whipped out my BlackBerry to check Facebook again. (Yes, I’m one of those people.)

My BlackBerry informed me that my account had been “disabled.” Disabled? I had never heard of such a thing. Perhaps it was a problem with my BlackBerry? I rushed home in a panic.

Alas, when I tried to log in on my computer, I was denied once again. This time I received a slightly more detailed message: “Your account has been disabled by an administrator.” I was referred to an FAQ informing me that accounts can be disabled for violations of Facebook’s Terms and Conditions, which prohibit such things as spamming or harassing other users.

I shot off a message to Facebook: “I do not believe I did anything in violation of Facebook’s terms of use. I am a loyal user with over 1,200 friends. I spend literally hours each day on the site. How can I appeal the disabling of my account?”

Then, I waited. And waited. To devotees of Facebook like myself—the type of people who use “Facebook” as a verb—life without the popular social networking site is unimaginable. If it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen.

With each passing day, I sank deeper and deeper into my Facebook-deprivation-induced depression. What to do? First, overeat! I inhaled massive quantities of saag paneer and gained about five pounds. I slept constantly, racking up a disturbing total of 16 hours of sleep on Saturday. It was only when I was asleep that my troubles vanished. I still had access to Facebook—in my dreams.


I COULD NOT figure out what I had done to deserve banishment. At the very least, my expulsion violated my due process rights. I was not given any advance warning before my account was suspended, I did not know the nature of the allegations made against me and I was never given the chance to confront my accusers. Okay, so the Bill of Rights has not been held applicable to Facebook, yet. But I still felt I was the victim of fundamental unfairness.

Also, being kicked off Facebook has all sorts of unfortunate consequences. Most were personal: Friends thought I had de-friended them. One wrote, “Was it something I said?” But the site is also essential to my job as a legal blogger. Readers of my blog, Above The Law, regularly submit tips to me via Facebook, which is often safer than e-mailing, since e-mail can be tracked. When I need sources for a story, I can post a note on Facebook and have a dozen sources within a matter of hours.

Losing Facebook was a significant professional blow, especially since I had spent so much time building up a network of contacts there. I even stopped updating my Microsoft Outlook contacts, since I figured Facebook would always be there for me.