In my last post I explained my decision to adopt a policy of limited personal use of Facebook. I then moved to stand by my decision my joining Facebook.
I thought that it would take only a few minutes. Instead it took me three days.
It all started when I submitted to Facebook's apparently new standard security policy. I can understand passing a captcha to prove I'm not a robot. I can also understand Facebook wanting to prevent the creation of multiple accounts for the same individual. What I don't understand is why they couldn't send a confirmation phone to my phone via text.
Here's a cropped screenshot of Facebook asking me to provide a phone number.
When I provide my phone number, I see this little dandy window pop up.
I would become very familiar with this window, because the text that was purportedly coming "soon" didn't come within the next 5 minutes. When I click Resend, I see the little window refresh, but there is no text message that appears in my phone.
In the lower left corner behind the window is a link that says "I need help." I saw that, cancelled out of the smaller window, and clicked on that link. It brought me to the Facebook help pages, which you can see here.
The last option ("I can't use my phone to verify my identity.") captured my attention. Here's what I saw when I selected it.
I don't mind submitting a request for assistance, but did they really expect me to send them an image of my driver's license? See for yourself.
I can understand Facebook wanting a reliable and standardized way of confirming identity. At the same time, they along with everyone else have a snowball's chance in hell of me actually surrendering a digital image of a document that could be used to steal my identity.
My sister had a hard time believing that Facebook actually wanted a copy of my driver's license just to start an account, so I invited her to come over and see for herself. My sister is more liberal when it comes to privacy and sharing very personal information in a public forum, but even she cringed at the option of sending a digital image of one's driver's license. My sister and I navigated around the site, trying to find another way for me to confirm my identity. All we could see was an option to submit a report about the incident. So I did and then moved on to other things while I waited.
Three days later I get an email from Facebook. At first I thought that perhaps they had solved my problem and were going to help me. Oh, the optimism of youth! They had sent me an automated message telling me that if I did not confirm my account within three days of joining that my account would be locked. So I have three days to confirm my account, but the only reminder you give me to confirm within the three-day window is right before that window is about to close? This is just more fuel for my Facebook user-unfriendliness fire.
I followed the link in the email, logged into Facebook, and found the same confirmation steps I had encountered previously. I tried entering in the confirmation code that appeared in the email, but Facebook said that code was invalid. If it was invalid, then why did you give it to me? I thought.
I don't know what happened, but after repeating a few more iterations of resending the confirmation code, I finally got a robot from Facebook calling me to give me the code. I entered it, and nothing seemed to happen. With no way of knowing whether or not the code took, I didn't know what to do.
Then I decided that I would just log out and then log back in. I then was greeted with this lovely notice.
I wanted to laugh. I mean, here is Facebook making my account creation a three-day ordeal, and they tell me that if I want to prevent this in the future I need "to learn the right way to share and interact on Facebook"! I couldn't even get into Facebook to share anything or interact with anyone! Of course, once I got in, then establishing a very bare bones profile took a few minutes.
I know from searching with Google and other sites to investigate my online reputation that at least 14 other people in the world share my first and last names. So I don't discount Facebook from being skeptical, especially if they are serious about enforcing a policy of one account per real person.
That being said, it shouldn't take three days to figure this out. I'm not sure what the problem was with the texting, but someone inside Facebook needs to look at that. I'd love to talk to someone inside Facebook about it, but they don't provide me with any means to contact them. After all, I'm not a customer. I'm just a user.
That's why, as soon as I could, I submitted a photo and changed both my profile name and username to reflect the brand I have been trying to create to differentiate my from those other 14 guys I referenced earlier.
So now I'm on Facebook, though still very cautious and skeptical. We will see where this takes me.
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