Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Disabled by the Facebook virus

I was recently disabled by Facebook. No reason given and no way to contact them except through their Q&A, then email.

I followed the instructions, but was informed I had a fake account and was permanently barred with no appeal.

Because I don’t take “no” for an answer, I immediately opened another Facebook account with a different email address, a placeholder account. (I later learned this is typical of teenagers: one for friends, another for family.)

The situation was frustrating, annoying and time-consuming. Was someone targeting me? Or, worse, was someone trying to steal my identity?

A few days later, I learned of the virus that targeted women—and asked them to send a copy of a government-issued I.D. to prove who they were to a “Facebook” customer support site.

Even though I got my account back, I couldn’t help questioning what was going on. How many women had given vital information about themselves to a hacker, an identity thief or worse?

Executives at Facebook said only a “small percentage” of its 500 million users were targeted, but even one percent could have been 5 million women.

Don’t get me wrong. I love connecting with the real world through the virtual one. Because I created a network of bird guides worldwide through Facebook, I not only enjoy stunning photographs daily, I know where my next big bird-watching trip will be.

Even before this latest virus, Facebook and other gargantuan social networking sites were becoming the domain of spammers, viruses and malware.

Now we have a virus that disables accounts and asks for personal identification. As far as I know, there has been no explanation of who received the identification papers. Facebook or someone else?

Ironically enough, Facebook executives announced they were creating a platform for email, etc. on the same day they had to admit there was a virus. Given the timing, perhaps Facebook itself was the target.

Being disabled from virtual friends for a few days was bad enough and cut off from the Dell Richards Publicity page for a few hours was unnerving.

But being cut off from email by a virus—with no way to phone customer support and get it fixed immediately—is my worst nightmare.

For more information, contact Dell Richards Publicity at 916. 455.4790 or visit our website at