Olympics, and Facebook restored (sort of)

Other volunteers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics I’ve spoken with have not yet heard what is to become of us since spectators in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures have been banned. I just finished my venue training at the Oi Hockey Stadium and was scheduled to attend July 24-28 and August 3-4. But rumors have it that we should expect some sort of cancelation notice, or suggestion of reassignment of some kind.

I wrote the Olympic Committee and suggested this:

With the new announcement of no spectators, I don’t know what will happen with volunteers. I suppose we will receive an email soon.

I have a suggestion though. How about letting the volunteers who are fully vaccinated be spectators? We can look after ourselves at the venues.

That will add some Olympic spirit and require the minimum of management.

I did get a reply:

Mr./Ms. Douglas Lerner This is Tokyo 2020 Field Cast Office. Thank you for your valuable suggestion. We will share it with our office. Thank you for your understanding. Best regards.

I doubt anything will come of it. So just standing by with my credentials, uniform and other Olympic goods, and a dog sitter scheduled to come and watch Pao those days.

Meanwhile in Facebook land, my disabled account has been restored. Sort of. Like back in February, I can now get in, post in my feed, use Messenger and so on. There was no explanation from Facebook about what happened, and no rule violations listed anywhere. But, like last time, there are some groups I can no longer post in, and some I can. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. I can post in the Tokyo Expats group. I can’t post in the Whole Food Plant Based health group. Last time it took months to sort out. I’m using Reddit for groups in the meanwhile, and continuing work on my own social network. But it’s difficult to get people to join a new social network these days. Facebook pretty much has a lock on things. I have told my Messenger friends how to reach me outside the Facebook ecosystem though.

Pao is doing ok – but our afternoon walks have gotten shorter because of the heat. We’ve been taking an extra evening walk instead, weather permitting. I think rainy season in Tokyo will be lifting by the end of the week.

Facebook & Messenger accounts disabled again

This happened earlier in the year. Then, like now, there was no explanation. My Facebook and Messenger accounts are disabled. I sent in the requested ID – again. Now I’m waiting.

What’s the expression? Once burned twice foolish. It’s been twice now.

I will not use Facebook Messenger again, except to reply to tell people how to reach me elsewhere (assuming I’m let back in). I was in the middle of some nice conversations with friends from undergrad school and, unfortunately, we didn’t bother to share other contact information.

I’m unapologetic about enjoying sharing: photos, bits of humor, what’s going on in Tokyo, other items of interest in the arts or politics or whatever. I also use Reddit. And of course I’m upgrading my own social network at lifemind.com – but it’s basically impossible to get people to join extra social networks unless they are really special. I can’t post photos and bits of info every day to my blog – it would really annoy my subscribers-by-email. I’m not sure what to do about that.

My Instagram account still works, even though they are also owned by Facebook. But the only only reason I have that account is because it’s a one-stop sharing site that mirrors the photos I post on Facebook too, so I can easily reach friends on both. I don’t really feel like using Instagram only. And unless it’s an emergency, I don’t want to use WhatsApp, which is also owned by Facebook. Facebook just controls too much of our daily lives.

I’m not sure what to do really. Reddit is also nice, and I participate in some groups there.

I need to think about it.

But for personal communications, going forward I will not use Facebook Messenger. People can reach me the following ways:

(1) You can send me an email. I check my email all the time.

2) Anybody in the Apple ecosystem (Mac, iPhone, iPad) can use standard iMessage to reach me, also using my personal email address.

(3) Android users in the U.S. and Canada can send text messages to my U.S. phone number.

(4) Everybody can chat with me using LINE – the most popular Japan-based chat app. It’s ubiquitous here in Japan, but it’s also on the US Apple and Google Play.

If you need my personal email address, US phone number, or LINE ID to connect, just reply to this email and I’ll give you the info.

Oh – feel free to share this post to help me catch people I’ve lost contact with.

Thanks,

doug

Strange reversal by Facebook restores my account to normal

Before going to sleep last night I saw this message from Facebook.

I checked the acknowledgment and continued. After that, I saw I could again post in all the groups I was unable to before.

They never once said what the initial problem was. Or if they didn’t like my United News Reports page and unpublished it why that had the side effect of initially disabling my entire account for over a week, and then after letting me back in blocking me from making new posts (but not comments) in more than half my groups – but not all my groups. There was no pattern to it at all.

Anyway, things are back to the way they were now. Still, I don’t trust Facebook and have revived multiple alternate venues of communication including this blog, the social network software made by my company (great for private-labeled social networks for places like schools, churches, non-profits, clubs, etc., who want control over content and design and features), and also Reddit, which has very supportive diet and health groups I’ve been using since the Facebook troubles started.

I’ll continue to use Facebook, but just not rely on it being there. There is no user support (not even bad user support – there literally is none), and it is obvious we are their product and not their customers.

At any rate, things suddenly returned to “normal” (as normal is defined in the Facebook world).

Facebook re-enabled, looking things over, thinking about what to do going forward

My disabled Facebook account appears to be enabled again. There was no notification, I just happened to notice. I’m looking it over to see if everything’s there and if there is any indication of what happened.

It may have been restored naturally. Or maybe some emails I sent to suggested Facebook addresses, or a tweet to a known Facebook employee suggested to me helped. Or maybe my email to Mark Zuckerberg helped. It remains a mystery.

I looked things over though, and tried, without success, to find a way to inquire about what happened.

Support Inbox

In the Support Inbox there is no information about what happened. There is a dialog from April 2017 where they took down a post of mine. I objected, they apologized and said it was a mistake and restored the post. It was a link to a Washington Post article about Trump.

There was another post of mine from October 2020 where I made a joke about different election days for Democrats and Republicans. They asked me to take it down. I did at the time, but entered an objection. They just said thank you for your feedback. It was basically the same joke I posted in 2016 and 2012 about Republicans voting the day after Democrats to avoid crowds.

This is the entirety of my listed violations in over 10 years of being a member.

On the Support Inbox page it says I’m temporarily restricted from creating Pages until May 3 at 2:03 am. But it doesn’t say why except, “Our security systems are currently blocking you from doing something on Facebook, such as posting or sharing. This block is temporary. The length of a block depends on the severity of the violation and your history on Facebook.”

There is a link to appeal if I feel like it. I hadn’t planned on adding any new pages any time soon so I don’t know if it’s worth the trouble. I clicked the link to appeal out of curiosity though and it just said they could not process it at this time.

Groups I Manage

All the groups I manage are still there.

Pages I Manage

The pages I manage all appear to be there via the Desktop. However via the Facebook app on my iPhone is saying that United News Reports (my news page linked to a blog I post to) and Elliptics Domains (my company is a GoDaddy Reseller so I apparently created a page for that once, but forgot about it) are not visible.

If I look at the Elliptics Domains page it is just asking me to add more information, but not giving me any warnings. I must have not finished completing that page.

If I look at United News Reports reports it says it has been unpublished because it goes against their Community Standards. That happened the day before I got blocked.

If I look at the Community Standards all it mentions are graphic violence, hate speech, harassment, bullying, nudity, sexual activity and sexual exploitation. None of those were any part of that Page. If anything, it was the mildest Page of all. It just reported news I thought was interesting. I have a blog linked to it at https://unitednewsreports.com and I was wondering whether to continue it now that the election is over.

I clicked on Disagree with Decision but apparently all that will do is “use my feedback to make improvements on future decisions.”

I can still see the contents, and it really is quite harmless. The last entry is just an auto-post from my blog congratulating Biden.

My Trump Fact Book and my company Elliptics, Ltd. pages are there as usual. In fact just one minute ago I received a $5 offer towards boosting a post on Trump Fact Book. Weird.

I think it must be all bots doing this.

What to do going forward

I’m not going to up and quit Facebook. But I feel very different about it now. I don’t feel good about it. I don’t feel like sharing jokes and cute articles much. I probably will post more on my blog at https://lerner.net and maybe link those posts to my feed.

I’m also hesitant about using Instagram (owned by Facebook) any more. I think I’ll just post photos and videos to my blog. People who subscribe can see them, and I’ll post links to Facebook sometime. The point here is controlling my content and not having it suddenly taken away from me. I don’t want to be held hostage by Facebook again.

I’m also fixing up a social network I actually own, that my company created and hosts. It’s typically used by organizations like schools, non-profits, educational services, and private companies who want a private-labeled social network, where they completely control the membership and content and privacy, and can customize appearance and script it to add more features as they like. I have a demo site for it, and just renamed it lifemind.com today. Feel free to visit it and sign up if you like. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Facebook, but it has some features that Facebook doesn’t, including personal blogs. You can create and join groups there, and make friend connections as well. I know very few people are going to bother joining yet another general social network though.

As for Messenger, I am not going to use that anymore. It would be too risky to suddenly lose contact with people again, and have them wonder what happened to me. I will take this chance I have to reach out to my contacts there and give them alternate ways of contacting me.

I want to thank everybody who was concerned about me going missing and making attempts to contact me during this time.