Locked Out – But Not in Facebook Jail
It happens. You forget your Facebook password – you haven’t had to enter it in six years, but you got a new PC or mobile phone and suddenly you’re being asked for that ancient password. Do they think you’re Sherlock Holmes, with a vault marked “Passwords” somewhere in your Mind Palace?
You admit that you’ve forgotten it and you request a reset. You wait, eager for the email containing the magic link. Then, you remember that the email you used ten years ago is defunct and you refused to give up a modicum of privacy to give Facebook a valid phone number that’s already listed in six online people finder sites.
If you had set up dual authentication or had a set of recovery codes printed and locked up in an actual filing cabinet, you’d be fine. But now Facebook is telling you that it won’t let you in without three forms of government ID, a utility bill, your last rent or mortgage statement, and a DNA sample. Don’t bother. It’s a black hole into which all your proof of ID falls – and nothing happens. This is where you compromise your privacy and proof of ID for no return whatsoSay good-bye to the last decade of your Facebook life, including any Groups or Pages you own, unless you had a trusted Admin who can give you Admin privileges and reassign ownership to you.
At this point, Facebook helpfully suggests you open a new account.
STOP! It’s a trap. Oh, it’s fine to open a new account, but there are a few things you need to do before sending your first Friend Request.
First, open that account. Choose a “friendly name” (if Facebook lets you) that resembles your actual name (without any spelling errors) or your high school nickname if it’s not too humiliating.
Add a new Profile picture that is different from your old one. Ideally, use a recent headshot that shows the real, recognizable you. It wouldn’t hurt to hold up a copy of today’s newspaper with the date prominently shown in the photo. Why? Because cloned accounts often steal public photos that you’ve posted in the past, and your Profile pic is usually public.
Add a cover image. This photo should show your personality, but should neither be too close to your core identity or too generic. OK – generic is fine, here. Use your own camera to take a photo of the wood grain on your desk. Include any identifying coffee rings and unique tchotchkes; you can use different photos at other angles to prove you are you, later.
IMPORTANT: Avoid using any of the following: patriotic images, treacly “inspirational” photos/quotations, military images, pictures of guns, images showing conspicuous wealth, religious images, children, winsome family pets, or free stock images. Why? These are used by and sought after by imposters. Get into the habit of assuming a few things that may or may not be true:
- “Military man” in officer’s uniform with numorous decorations on his chesticles: Probably seeks connection with people who have relatives in the military. Looks for flags, eagles, military logos, photos of folks in uniform. Remember: Loose lips sink ships! Try a reverse image search. Play “Who’s that Admiral?”
- “Military man” in fatigues, blowing shit up: See above, only now you can assume that they’ve assumed your military connections are all enlisted, not officers. Or that you love men who blow shit up and have ready access to lots and lots of firepower. “Hey, ‘bro – wanna hang out at the gun range, some time? I just need to move $900,000,000 and travel to wherever you are, first. Where are you?”
- “Single/divorced/widowed man with sad eyes, holding small child or puppy on lap”: Ordinary phisher. Appeals to loneliness and kindness. Poor, tragic soul. Probably a teenager overseas, using his one hour at the local internet cafe to try and score a few hundred bucks from idiots in the USA. Real romantic prospects don’t cold DM anyone with “Hey, beautiful” or “what u up to babeeee”.
- “Man holding cocktail in/in front of his private yacht/jet/exclusive resort, inviting you to join him with his bedroom eyes”: Oh, please. This is the gold digger version of the previous type. They just think you’ll be more likely to bite if you think his prospects of paying you back with exorbitant interest, later, are better. The guy can transfer his own money out of the country on his boat or plane, unless it’s drug money. If it’s drug money, you don’t want any part of that.
- “Girl taking selfies of her impossibly round ass or boobs in a truck stop bathroom mirror”: Do you men get any variety at all? Do they even try? I get one of these women about every 12th attempt. I didn’t fall for “sad, rich single dad on a yacht”? Maybe I’m a lesbian. Send truck stop girl. I figure they’ll just keep baiting the hook with different worms to see if I’ll ever bite. I am a little insulted that no one has sent me a “Professor buried under a mountain of books in the university library archives” yet.
Seriously, no man or woman worth spit cold DMs a stranger with “Hey beautiful” or “ur pic make me so [adjective] I wan to [obscene verb] you.” But apparently, the flattery and the appeal to empathy/pity/abject horniness work all too well or they’d have given it up a decade ago. So just try not to bait the hook if this isn’t the kind of fish you want to catch.
Do all of the things outlined in this post: So You’re NOT Leaving Facebook? Do not even post on your Facebook wall before taking care of your account settings!
Post one explanatory post on your wall: Why did you start a new Facebook account? Be honest here. Did you forget your password? Were you locked out? Was your old account hacked? (Be sure you understand the difference between “hacked” – taken over by someone else, who can log into the original account, post to it, etc. – and “cloned” – where someone steals your public data and creates a whole NEW account (like you just did, here) to impersonate you. There’s a big difference.) Do not start sending out Facebook Friend Requests just yet!
Find 5-10 real life family members or friends who are known to your other friends and known to be “social media wary.” In other words, the sort that would never accept a Friend Request on the strength of “Mutual Friends” alone. Ask them to post on your wall first, explaining why you opened a new account and asking other relatives and friends to contact them if they have any doubts or questions. Make sure that these people know what’s going on.
Wait 24 to 72 hours. Allow others to send you Friend Requests, but do not start sending them out to all your former connections. Talk to people you know. Go ahead and post to your Profile, and the more you sound like yourself, the better.
Slowly start sending Friend Requests. Start with people you know best, and work outwards towards acquaintances. ENCOURAGE “Mutual Friends” to check with one another before accepting any Friend Requests.
Locked Out – In Facebook Jail
Wait it out. Seriously, just wait it out. Appeal your sentence. Rattle your virtual tin cup against the jail cell bars. Sing loudly and off key. Blog – now is a great time to start your own blog and focus on building a website that you control, rather than donating free content to the Mark Zuckerberg Empire. Think about why you need – IF you need – Facebook at all.
Notice that question about AdSense, on the form? Odds are, if you aren’t a Business User, you’ll be met with resounding silence. Facebook Support is not there to help you. It’s barely there to help people who earn it revenue. You’re the product, not the customer. Abandon hope.
Whatever you do, though, do not get scammed into paying a third party “provider” to help you hack your way back into your own account on Facebook. There are thousands of those. As one friend of mine said, recently, “Where there is prey, there are predators.” Just tweet “I’m locked out of my Facebook account” on Twitter, and you’ll see. Just say “no.” Because whatever they’re proposing to do to “help” you will get you in (more) trouble for violating Facebook’s Terms of Service, and will just cost you money. Money that would be better spent on building your own website where you can complain at length about Facebook – or, better yet, ignore Facebook completely, right?