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How to Stay Out of Facebook Jail

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Many of us have been there before–behind the proverbial bars of social media punishment. We’re left shocked and reeling, wondering: How did we land in Facebook jail? 

Perhaps we shared an article our Uncle Bobby sent us, or tagged someone in a graphic photo who then reported us to Facebook. Facebook flagged our post content as harmful or false information. We didn’t mean anything by our innocent mistake, but it’s too late to escape consequence. 

For those of us who use Facebook as a means to communicate with professional networks, Facebook jail could detrimentally impact our real lives. Even a fairly lenient ban from the global social media giant could harm our income. We vow never to land in this cold, dank Metaverse jail again.  

Are there ways to prevent a stay in Facebook jail? The good news is, yes–we can keep ourselves from ever experiencing a ban again. Most of the practices to stay out of Facebook jail are good habits to develop anyway. We’re showcasing several here to help you keep your platform freedom–a platform that, as of January 2022, still boasts 307.34 million users in the U.S.

What is Facebook jail?

Facebook “jail” is the term coined by Facebook users who find themselves banned for a short period of time–or for life–from the media juggernaut. Typically, Facebook notifies account holders facing punishment with a canned message: 

We have found your account is in violation of Community Standards

The social media gatekeepers will point toward a specific violation, but may not reveal the incriminating post. Facebook also informs those in Facebook jail of their sentenced time–some incidents may only lead to a few days without Facebook access while others may impose a lifelong ban.  

Sometimes, this punishment does not fit the crime. Facebook may send a message with a brief reason behind the ban, but gaining further information proves difficult.For example, Carlene Rogers’ daughter, Mattie Rogers, traveled to compete with Team USA BodyBuilding in the Tokyo Olympics, and Rogers beamed with pride. 

As the Olympics began, Rogers jumped on Facebook to share photos of her daughter, decked out in Olympic gear. Within days, Rogers found herself locked out of her Facebook account. Facebook claimed she had violated community standards…by posing as a celebrity. Someone had reported Carlene Rogers’ account, and getting it reactivated proved a headache. Rogers’ story stands as an unfair example of Facebook jail time.

Whether we have found ourselves behind the figurative social media bars, or know someone who has received the punishment, Facebook jail has probably touched our lives. After years of accusations of a lack of transparency, Facebook found itself in the crosshairs of whistleblowers questioning the platform’s commitment to user privacy and the prevention of the spread of misinformation. 

When the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections revealed a proliferation of Russian bots on the platform, Facebook began to clamp down. The standards for created accounts and information shared are tighter, and a bit less opaque. In theory, this adherence to standards is a good thing, but  many see these standards, in their practical form, as censorship. Nonetheless, we may find ourselves facing Facebook jail if we don’t follow the rules.

Don’t post violent or exploitative images

It may sound like a given, but posting violent or exploitative content will almost always lead to Facebook jail time. Even if you’re not the original poster of the images or videos you share, at the very least, sharing triggering images will garner a warning label slapped on your post. You may face suspension of your Facebook account if you choose to post this content. Violent or exploitative images and video include:

  • Grisly photos or video of a murder
  • Images depicting violence toward children or animals
  • Images depicting domestic violence
  • Pornographic cartoons, images, or videos

When in doubt, err on the side of discretion–don’t post questionable content.

Don’t create Facebook accounts posing as someone else

Plenty of Facebook pages use a celebrity’s name, and still adhere to Facebook’s Community Standards. Harry Styles’ Greatest Fan Page probably exists and may feature many quotes, video clips, and images of heartthrob Styles. The page is allowed to stand because the account holders do not claim to be Harry Styles. 

Say you chose to start a satirical page under the name Brad Pitt–you would stand in clear violation of Facebook Community Standards. Even though your content may scream satire, you aren’t allowed to deceive other users by claiming Brad Pitt’s name. This goes for non-celebrities too–if you begin a Facebook page under someone else’s name without their consent, Facebook may take down the page and you might face a lengthy platform suspension. 

We’ve published a comprehensive list to help you report suspicious or fake accounts.

Don’t use hate speech 

Currently, Facebook jail is frequently inhabited by those who use inciteful, hate-filled speech. In the not-so-distant past, these groups used their Facebook accounts to recruit others and spread their hateful messages. And, other accounts would share their posts.

At the time, Facebook regulations often missed the propensity of pages created solely to express hatred. Facebook has since stepped up its game by proactively flagging these accounts and banning them from the platform. The Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy places restrictions on groups able to procure Facebook accounts. In June 2020, Facebook banned accounts with ties to groups like the Proud Boys who are known to spread hate and calls to violence. 

As a private company, Facebook reserves the right to prevent its vitriolic speech. These groups are still free to share their message elsewhere–just not on Facebook. Taking part in this activity will most likely land you in the Facebook slammer.

Don’t make violent threats

When we lose ourselves and invest in comment threads on Facebook, our comments may become easily heated. No one’s mind has ever been changed by a stranger’s Facebook comment, and attempts at discourse often collapse into a written screaming match. In these circumstances, it’s understandable when we lose our cool. However, suggesting someone take lewd actions, wishing a horrific death befall them, or urging others to enact physical violence may earn you a social media time-out. If you don’t trust yourself to keep a comment thread in a realm of civility, perhaps it’s time to keep scrolling.

Although hate speech is protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, this pertains only to government control over speech. Social media platforms, and all other types of privately-owned forums are free to create their own rules of conduct.

Don’t spam other users

Another sure way to land in Facebook jail is to spam other platform accounts with promotions. You may think your weed-killing lawn care products can transform the world–and maybe you’re right. But copying and pasting an ad for said products in every comment thread you can find will only land you in the land of suspension.

 Flooding or spamming others with unsolicited advertisements and promotional messages will only lead to a ban on Facebook access for you. This goes for Facebook Messenger as well. Your multi-level marketing (MLM) plan may seem great to you, but others may not want to buy your vague products and become a part of your company. Sending unsolicited offers through direct messages may result in recipients of your MLM spam reporting your account. 

Avoid the spread of disinformation

If you stop the spread of disinformation–especially on hot-button social or political issues, you’ll have developed another fantastic habit, and a way to stay out of Facebook jail. We all stumble across memes or posts that nourish our confirmation bias. Incredulous or joyful, moved or miffed, our gut reaction is to share these posts. But if we don’t fact check the post first, we may find ourselves behind those lonely, figurative bars once again.

Here are some fantastic ways to fact check information before we share it:

  • Search the internet for corroborating information. If no legitimate sources (for instance, academic institutions or credible news organizations)  can confirm the veracity of your content, chances are it is false.
  • Find the original source of the content. Is this source a person or organization who you trust?
  • Reverse search your images. In 2022, images attributed to the Ukraine war surfaced that were really from other, older skirmishes or situations. A simple search of the images exposed the error. 
  • Check the information against a credible debunking site, such as snopes.com or Facebook’s own verification partners, factcheck.org 

 Over the past six years, Facebook has begun the arduous process of fact-checking assertions shared by its users. Regardless of the belief systems we hold, we all benefit from the crack down on misinformed posts presenting themselves as fact. When baseless information spreads, it can create fear and perpetuate entire, false movements. Other than Facebook jail, some of the ways the platform prevents the spread of disinformation include:

  • Making groups with violations less easy to discover/ taking them off of recommendation settings
  • Flagging a post as false information
  • Removing harmful groups and individuals from the platform
  • Warning other users of public or personal profiles that violate community standards
  • Removing habitual offenders from the News Feed of other users
  • Assigning moderators to review content of groups/ people with multiple community standards violations

Let freedom ring

Even the best of us may find that we land in Facebook jail from time to time. An anonymous user may find our posts offensive and report them to moderators. Facebook may agree, and may restrict our platform interactions. However, there are easy ways to stay out of Facebook jail too.

If we intentionally avoid violent or exploitative content, don’t set up a fake account or spam other accounts, stay away from hate speech, and fact check information before we share it, we can continue to enjoy our Facebook freedom.

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