Action 9

Facebook jail: What is it? How to fight back

ORLANDO, Fla. — A local woman claims she ended up in Facebook ‘jail’ just for being a mom. She claims her Facebook page was shut down after she shared pictures of her daughter.

“Sitting here today. You’re still in Facebook jail. Does that defy common sense?” Todd Ulrich asked.

“It doesn’t make sense, no,” Carlene Rogers replied.

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Rogers is one very proud mom. Her daughter, Mattie Rogers, made Team USA and competed in the Tokyo Olympics as a champion weightlifter.

The same day Rogers posted Mattie’s pictures on her Facebook page, it was shut down.

“Then I couldn’t post anything. I couldn’t retrieve anything,” Rogers said.

Thinking it had to be a mistake, she contacted Facebook online. Then she discovered she was banned from the platform for impersonating a famous person. Rogers thought it was an obvious Facebook content control error since she is Mattie’s mom.

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“Seems like it would be a quick fix, like if their review system actually worked somebody would go, ‘Oh yeah, that was an error,’ click,” Rogers said.

Facebook gave Rogers a response several months ago. The response read, “Carlene you disagreed with the decision...usually takes just over a day to review.” She’s been getting that same message for nearly four months.

Rogers said she’s tried to get help from Facebook, “I mean I’ve tried everything. I tried their automated phone. I tried sending emails.”

A dozen Facebook users contacted Action 9 with unresolved complaints in just a year.

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There are thousands of consumers online who claim that somehow they violated the platform’s community standards and many ended up in Facebook jail.

Consumer complaints involve users who aren’t sure what Facebook’s standards are. They claim there was no warning before they were locked out of the platform, and they say reaching someone in customer service has been difficult.

“Facebook made the choice not to have customer service,” Michael Podolsky said.

Podolsky runs the consumer advocacy website, which helps customers and companies communicate.

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His company has tried to assist 240,000 customers reach Facebook’s customer service since they could not do it on their own.

“People have a hard time reaching Facebook and they want to scream to the whole world about the problem,” Podolsky said.

He blames Facebook’s automation for jail sentences that seem unfair. The automated system relies on artificial intelligence to detect violations and a real person is not involved.

“Not every case can be solved by computer. Certain cases are exceptions. Artificial intelligence can make mistakes,” Podolsky said.

Facebook’s oversight board has recommended the company allow customers to appeal to actual human beings.

“There’s no way to contact Facebook,” Rogers said.

Ulrich emailed Facebook’s media relations department several times about Rogers’ ban. There’s been no response.

“You were just being a proud mom and you’re banned from Facebook?” Ulrich asked.

“Yeah, and I don’t usually even post,” Rogers replied.

Facebook has announced online that it will add options for customers to appeal decisions they disagree with, including taking their case to its oversight board.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich,

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.