That didn’t take long. Yesterday, I wrote about how we all needed to be more thoughtful about our use of social media and stop scapegoating sites like Facebook for our human failings and disappointments. Even before the post went live, this morning, Facebook flagged my PC as being “possibly infected with malware” and tried to force me to download Kaspersky and run a scan before allowing me to log in:
There are just a couple of problems with that:
- I run pretty decent antivirus/antimalware/firewall software and pay to keep it up to date. I got nothin’.
- IF my PC were infected, why would I trust the site that tells me about it to provide an app to scan and clean it for me? See http://www.scambusters.org/fakeantivirus.html for one example of why you shouldn’t do this.
I’d started to do this, anyway – I mean, Kaspersky seems reputable enough, and the URLs seemed legit, but… I figured it wouldn’t hurt to check around before mindlessly agreeing to anything. So, with the little reminder about how such files downloaded from shady places like Facebook can be harmful to my computer, I clicked the Discard button.
Facebook claims they’ve “saved” millions of people from malware with this approach. I suspect they just count everyone they flagged – whether it was a false positive or not. I am not one of the “saved.” After finding plenty of evidence that there were as many false positives and annoyances connected with this new(ish) Facebook “feature,” I backed on out – then deleted cache and cookies and logged back into my Facebook account without any issues.
I left them a not very charitable note. Unfortunately, I also mentioned my workaround.
As of this morning, they’ve blocked me from posting any links. (I could still post a photo of my middle finger and the words “Love you, Mark Z!” if I were feeling nasty, but no links.) I may be able to share others’s posts, including the ones of a questionable nature – apparently, nudity, hate speech, unvetted hystrionics, and the like are still not verboten.
And it’s not just the supposedly infested PC, of course – now it’s personal, and affects two PCs running different operating systems and different antivirus programs and my phone (running a third OS and different antimalware app):
Revenge for my suggesting that their security team was stupid and hitting the expired holiday eggnog too hard? (Seriously, I said that – but given the things Facebook says “Don’t violate our community standards” and suggests the rest of us just suck up and deal with, I don’t feel bad about it. I’m sure their security team isn’t comprised of people with below average IQs and I imagine if they HAD been hitting the old nog, they’d be in the lavatory now and not able to cause trouble in the first place!) I searched to see if maybe I could find a clue and whether I should be trying to muster an iota of contrition. I found only this:
How long will the block on my account last? Can it be lifted?
The block on your account could last between a few hours and a few days, depending on the situation. We can’t lift this block for any reason.
When the block is over, please slow down or stop this behavior (ex: send fewer messages each day, only tag people in photos they’re actually in). Otherwise, your account could be permanently disabled.
For more information on our policies, please review the Facebook Community Standards.
Come on, Facebook – the only “behavior” you could legitimately bitch about is my sending multiple support tickets, calling you stupid, and suggesting you were hitting the moldy eggnog. People do much worse than that, every day, and don’t get slapped for it. In fact, the rest of us get slapped – by you – for reporting them! (I suspect what really started the trouble was my sharing a picture of “hamdog.” Maimed and mutilated pitbulls, sick children being used for “Like” farming – no problem, right, Facebook? But laugh about “hamdog” and I’m going straight to Facebook jail. I see how you roll.)
Fine. I’ll slow down with the support tickets and stop clicking the “no, your documentation’s not helpful, it sucks!” feedback when you lift the block, Facebook.
Oh, wait…you can’t do that. For any reason. Per your own rules. Hahahahaha. Stalemate.
What is it, a house-sized block of lead? What did I say yesterday about whining and ranting? Actually, I’m laughing. I’m not the least little bit angry about any of this. Social media makes trolls of us all, in the end. The whole thing is hysterically funny and they can just keep me in Facebook jail as long as they like. I’m reasonably sure that all my insults are going to a dead-letter box and being read by a robot. If there’s an actual human being reading one of six billion customer’s support tickets, I sincerely apologize if I’ve hurt a feeling I didn’t know you had. Really and truly.
I mean, it’s not as if you cared about my feelings when you sent me the refusal to “Verify” my author page and told me I wasn’t “notable enough” to be eligible, but no hard feelings.
No, I mean it: Thank you, Facebook, for keeping me humble. Just don’t try to backpedal with the whole “trying to be sure they were created by the people and organizations they represent” – I sent in a copy of my driver’s license. Mark Z. had better not be shopping on my Amazon account.
Does anyone else think that line about “This decision doesn’t limit your ability to grow and develop your page or profile” is a little condescending, under the circumstances?
Meanwhile, I’ll just play my Facebook Dissidents Protest Playlist (maybe make it longer and more obnoxious, now that I have more time on my hands – I should probably open it up and make it collaborative, judging by the number of people telling me they’ve also served time in the Facebook penalty box for no discernable reason) and I will rattle my tin cup against the bars as I sing along loudly and off-key.
Of course I’m not leaving Facebook (okay, after this, they may kick me off!) – but a little break, a trial separation, some time to focus on other things, will not come amiss. I’m thinking of establishing my blog as a French Enlightenment “salon.” All are welcome to come and discuss the issues of the day, even Zuckerburg – IF he sends me a copy of his driver’s license.
Practical tip: To download a copy of your Facebook data, in anticipation of being summarily locked out, blocked, or prevented from doing anything without notice, go to Settings, then – right under “Temperature,” click the link to “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” They’ll send you an email when it’s ready. Check it after downloading it, to be sure it contains everything and is usable. Mine is only 119 MB, which I find hard to believe contains everything they say it does.
UPDATE: I can’t share these links ON Facebook, but you can help spread the word. One thing these antivirus “partners” of Facebook’s should understand: The current implementation makes their software look like malware. Facebook claims:
For the past year, we’ve been working with anti-malware companies like ESET, F-Secure, and Trend Micro to offer free malware cleanup software to people who use Facebook. Thanks to the collaboration with these companies, in the past three months we have helped clean up more than 2 million people’s computers that we detected were infected with malware when they connected to Facebook. In these cases, we present a cleanup tool that runs in the background while you continue using Facebook, and you get a notification when the scan is done to show you what it found.
(That’s from https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-security/protecting-millions-from-malware-with-cleanup-tools/10152836024620766/ for those who still think this IS a virus and we shouldn’t be blaming Facebook because our browsers have been hijacked. Read the notice and read the comments below it. As my dad would say, “Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back, there,” Facebook. Add Kaspersky into the mix while you’re at it.)
While I got around the login block simply by clearing cache and cookies and taking the ban on posting links, others took a different route and have not been so lucky.
You’ll see many reports from frustrated Facebook users on Twitter.
There are even indications that this “malware warning” and block are targeting specific users – NOT flagging “infected PCs”:
Don’t hold your breath for a fix any time soon. This has been going on since at least July.
Mitch sent me a post that shows they’ve tried this before: http://www.techydad.com/2013/02/the-facebook-mcafee-lockout/
Proof that it has nothing to do with “detecting malware on your PC”!!
Again, note, this is NOT a hijack, hack, trojan, etc – this is definitely Facebook and they are going to break their arms patting themselves on the back as they further anger their users: Read https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-security/protecting-millions-from-malware-with-cleanup-tools/10152836024620766/ for their own announcement!
Normally, I’d say “don’t read the comments!” but in this case, I think you’ll see that they are overwhelmingly negative and Facebook is making no effort to reach out and resolve the issues.
For further proof that Facebook regards its users as something akin to Skinner’s pigeons, read Wired’s article “outing” them for causing app crashes to test whether users were so loyal they’d find their own workarounds: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2016-01/05/wired-awake-5-january (Unfortunately, we ARE that addicted.)