Facebook: My business dilemma
People just submitted it.
I don’t know why.
They “trust me”
-Mark Zuckerberg in instant messages about users’ information
I received my invitation to the, then, young startup social network in the summer of 2005. It was just prior to the start of my freshmen year of college. Facebook resembled a new Myspace that college students were moving to in droves. It was in its early stages and had not yet implemented the features or boasted the massive user base that it has today. At that time, it was a way to stay in contact with high school friends as everyone went their separate ways and to meet new people at whatever school you were at. That was pretty much it. There was a basic profile, photo albums, a status, and a messaging feature. It worked fine for keeping in touch. It was also limited to just college students.
Fast forward to the global behemoth it is today. In the second quarter of 2018, it had 2.23 billion monthly active users, nearly a third of the global population. This doesn’t even account for the other properties like Instagram that it also owns. Managing that much personal data is worth a lot of money. It is no surprise that there have been startling accusations and revelations of data leaks, misuse of information, and solicitation by foreign entities to influence US elections (just to name a few).
Like many around the election in 2016, I decided Facebook was no longer worth the time/trouble/mental stamina to keep up with people I really didn’t have any real contact with or see others rant on the current political climate. I deleted my account. Not deactivated, deleted permanently (at least that’s what FB says happens). Since then, I have been happy with my decision and don’t really miss it at all. There are other social networks I use, some of which are owned by Facebook, to keep up with people. Life post-Facebook was fine.
Then I started a new company and Facebook came back into my life. The hardest thing I’ve encountered so far is trying to make a business page for Lonely Lane. I thought it should be as simple as setting up a page and having it be a part of the largest network of people on the planet. Wrong. In order to set up and manage a business page, I need to create or have an account. I create a new account via email and linked to my phone and think that should suffice. I go to login and receive a message that my account has been disabled. After reading through a list of reasons for disabling, keep in mind I haven’t put anything on the profile other than my name, I realize “Impersonating someone.” had to be the reason. Although I am presumably impersonating myself, I think it is simple enough to prove I am me. Now, support on Facebook is essentially non-existent. No email, no call center, no chat. The best they offer is a Help Center where other users have submitted questions/problems and, presumably, a Facebook rep will reply. If you don’t find your answer, you are free to submit your own issue. In order to submit your own issue, you must login. I go to login and am told my account is disabled. Stuck in an endless loop.
Lesson #1 for business owners. Don’t make it IMPOSSIBLE for people to use your product or service. The total lack of support that the biggest social network on the planet offers (or fails to offer) is mind boggling to me. I have submitted a couple requests through an appeal form but have not heard a thing in a few weeks and my account remains disabled. The last thing to do is submit photos of my ID. They actually encourage submitting a couple IDs to prove I am who I say I am. And this is where my dilemma hit me. Do I submit my ID or just resign myself to the fact that my company won’t have a page on the largest social network in the world?
This company has had multiple accusations lobbed at it for quite some time about how it has failed to secure and properly manage the user data at its disposal. It came out with a commercial encouraging users to trust them. Facebook said they’re really not that bad and things will get better. But then there was an exposed data leak last week that compromised 50 million users’ data. All this has served as a reminder that Facebook really has a long way to go to earn my trust back. At this point, is there any way to feel truly secure that they will do anything to protect our data?
I know I am just one user in a sea of billions and my account means nothing to them. They have data on me at this point that I can never be sure is truly secure. It could be used to sell ads. It could be used to post as a fake-me account somewhere and I would never know. I think all I can do is use this as a learning moment as a business owner.
Don’t ever start thinking that you don’t need your customers. Complacency kills. Your company should be fighting to earn your customer’s attention and trust at every interaction. Make getting in touch as easy as possible. If customers or clients need to jump through hoops, they will find an alternative at a certain point. Nurture the relationship with your customer and honor their trust. Be authentic. When you mess up, own up to it. Give a sincere acknowledgement of your mistake with next steps on how you intend to actually fix it and follow through. Lastly, don’t call your customers dumb fucks.