Harry Joiner sent me a note two days ago telling me he was banned from Facebook for uploading his addressbook.
I know that sounds crazy - but that's all he did, and his response was a notice telling him he had been banned, and then a second notice telling him the decision was final.
What? What kind of idiot company encourages you to upload your address book and then bans you for doing so? Facebook, that's who.
Predictably, the recruiting blogopshere is coming to Harry's defense. Here is a list of sites writing in support, and they include the Animal's research into other Facebook members who have been banned, and don't know why.
So the policy of Facebook is to ban its members without warning, and refuse to tell them what they did to get banned. Who made up that rule? I signed in to my account, and I can't see anything that tells you not to upload your address book. The Facebook website even encourages you to do so and tells you how to create a contact list.
I wonder what that number is? 100 people in your contact list equals banning? 1000 people?
Or maybe it's because Harry is a business?
One - their employee needs to watch out for typos. Two, if you are in business, and you want to network with other people for business reasons, it stands to reason that Facebook doesn't want you. Well, I guess they better cancel my account then. And while you're at it, cancel the account of every other person I'm connected to. We're in this to make money, and we wouldn't sign up to Facebook if we weren't.
I wonder how many of those 30 million members signed up because they wanted to make money, and heard Facebook was the next big thing? If we can't use it, we'll leave. And if we leave, the Facebook bubble pops, and returns to a social website for teens and college kids. That's over half the users. Yep - over half of Facebook Users are over the age of 25. We're not on it to arrange parties or meet people.
Here's a scary thought. Let's say you build your social network on Facebook instead of LinkedIn. You speak to clients, and add them to your list as you grow. You use the site to stay in touch with those clients, and then one day, you're banned. No reason, no recourse. Everything you built up is gone, and Facebook won't tell you why.
Don't think it can't happen. Lucky for Harry he was banned on the first day, and not after he invited his entire network to join.
This whole situation is mindboggling, and represents hubris of the first order. Maybe when you have 31 million members, you don't have to pay attention to your actual users, but my hope is that reporters catch wind of this story, do some digging, and start poking some holes in the Facebook mythology.
Right now - every Web 2.0 company is rushing to build widgets to grab hold of the Facebook community. I wonder what happens when one of them violates the Terms of Service while using their widget. Many companies are planning multi-million dollar widget strategies. With the kind of arrogance displayed in banning Harry Joiner, it won't be long before people start to question why they're investing time and money into a company that doesn't want them there.
Marketing Professors has more on who owns your data. In this case, Facebook does.
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