Today I received an unexpected email from Facebook. Subject: “Action needed on your Facebook account”. It starts: “You Have 30 Days to Request a Review”.
The email read:
Hi David, Your Facebook account has been disabled. This is because your account, or activity on it, doesn't follow our Community Standards. If you think we disabled your account by mistake, we can take you through a few steps to request a review. You'll need to complete these steps within 30 days to avoid your account being permanently disabled. You can learn more about why we sometimes disable accounts by visiting the Community Standards. Thanks, The Facebook Security Team
There was a large blue button “Request Review”.
I have no idea why my account was disabled. There was no indication in the email. I don’t really use Facebook proper much – do the Community Standards require that I use Facebook more? No, that would be absurd. I do use Messenger quite a bit. I have a Messenger bot, Bieber Bot. Did Bieber Bot violate some Bot guidelines? I don’t think so. Outside of Messenger my only Facebook activity is coordinating table tennis matches with strangers.
I clicked “Request Review”. The system says it wants to confirm my identity. There’s a grayed out “Continue” button but no way to click it. After a few minutes of trying to figure out how to click the button, I switch to Firefox. In Firefox the screen looks a bit different: there’s a “Prove your not a robot” checkbox for me to click. I couldn’t see it when I was in Chrome, but now that I’m in Firefox the checkbox is visible.
I’d never quite understood how a single checkbox can prove I’m not a robot. It didn’t make sense. A robot can check a box just as well as anyone, or so I thought. Maybe Google looks at timing data or the location of your mouse, or other properties of your browser, and predicts if you’re a robot from that. Now I understand – I couldn’t see the checkbox when I was in Chrome. I was the robot! Robots simply can’t see that checkbox. By switching to Firefox I restored my humanity. I checked the box and proceeded.
The review lasted all of 100ms. After proving my humanity and initiating the review of my account for satisfaction of the Community Standards, my account was immediately restored. I’m grateful for this, since I rely on Bieber Bot and Messenger quite heavily.
Glad I thought to try Firefox. I didn’t see any way to move forward otherwise. With my account restored, I can now resume my day.