On top of it all, I had to endure the shame of being an online outcast. When I would explain my predicament, friends would express their sympathy. But I couldn’t help wondering: Are they secretly judging me? I felt like the Hester Prynne of the virtual world, with “FB” branded across my chest.
FINALLY, ON MONDAY—almost a week after my Tuesday-night expulsion, and without hearing anything from Facebook’s Kafkaesque justice system in the intervening period—I received an e-mail message from “Jerry,” in Facebook’s User Operations department.
Apparently, I’d been deleted because I had posted parts of another user’s Facebook profile to my blog. This was true: I had written about the profile of an Arizona beauty queen-turned-law student, who was indicted on charges of kidnapping her ex-boyfriend. She allegedly tied the guy up with plastic cables and duct tape, bit him and threatened him with a butcher knife. Not a good person to have as an enemy.
Thankfully, though, my punishment was reversed, with the stern warning that I “remove these reproduced sections and refrain from doing this again in the future.”
I did not view my infraction as a grave offense. But after enduring the hell of five days without Facebook, I will not stray again. The sanction has served its purpose.
The irony, of course, is that, as The New York Times reported last month, users who actually do want to leave Facebook were finding it nearly impossible to erase themselves completely from the site. So what’s the greater punishment? A prison you can’t break out of, or one you can’t break back into?