Tobold's Blog
Monday, October 03, 2011
 
Banned from Facebook

Well, this was bound to happen one day: I got banned from Facebook for not being real. Quote: "People on Facebook want to interact with their real friends and the people they know in the real world. Since fake accounts can damage the integrity of this environment, they are not allowed to remain on the site." I do not think that this statement is even remotely true. If I want to interact with my real friends and the people I know in the real world, I go out and meet them. The big advantage of a social network is that it enables you to make new friends which you don't know in the real world. The internet allows me to interact with people living far away from me, but sharing common interests.

Now I could make a new Facebook account using my real name, and populate it with my real world friends. But my real world friends aren't all that interested in Facebook games. And I would have to start my Facebook games over from zero, having lost for example my empire in Empires & Allies. Frankly, I would be ashamed bothering my real world friends with constant demands for virtual trinkets in this or that Facebook game. It is only by having people who are NOT your real world friends, but who agree on a simple deal of "I send you the virtual trinkets you need if you send me the virtual trinkets I need" that most Facebook games become playable.

And I suspect that this is exactly the reason why I got banned. Facebook games work by either requiring you to pay money, or bother your real world friends in the hope that they start playing and pay money. It is that, and not the "integrity of the environment" that I endangered. I was playing the system to get around the odious requirements of Facebook games, and Facebook banned me for it. I wasn't the customer, I was the product. And by not playing by their rules, I was a defective product, and got sorted out by Facebook's quality control.

With the current trend towards demand real IDs everywhere online, I wonder what will happen first: I lose all interest in online games, or all online games and platforms kick me out for not being willing to use my real name?

[EDIT: I found the following interesting rule on the page explaining why my account was disabled: "Do not contact strangers for the purpose of gaining an advantage in a game or application." Thus it is actually forbidden to actively find other people that aren't your real world friends but only play the same games as you are. You must pester your real world friends for virtual gifts if you don't want to get banned.]
Comments:
Hrmm... I bought some Facebook credits at one point... I still have a few. I wonder if that will shield me from being banned as well.

I have a Facebook account in my real name, just to absorb invites from friends. I rarely use it however and I am not going to start playing games on that account as it would annoy my friends and family if I started the Zynga spam cycle.

Anyway, sorry for your loss. I am sure there will be much said about the harm anonymity does by people who cannot distinguish between a pseudonym, which can be a long term proposition and often becomes invested with a reputation its own, and true anonymous interactions.

Real names will not "fix" the internet.
 
I bought some Facebook credits at one point... I still have a few. I wonder if that will shield me from being banned as well.

No, it won't. I have bought Facebook credits in the past too, and it didn't save me.
 
Spamming your real life friends with farmville animals is annoying. I was happy when someone showed me how I can remove all messages from farmville. So no, I wouldn't do it myself.

And my uncle has hundreds of friends around the world. None of them he met in real life but they all play these games and help each other. Following their reason he should be banned too but he's using his own name.
 
Did you try "Do you know who I am?"
 
Just out of interest did you create an account with a surname? i.e. Tobold Stoutfoot? I wonder how smart their algorithms are for detecting pseudonyms.
 
Did you try "Do you know who I am?"

That somehow didn't appear on the page they linked to with what I could do to resolve the matter. In fact the only option would be to send them a photo ID.
 
Just out of interest did you create an account with a surname? i.e. Tobold Stoutfoot?

Yes. That one, exactly.
 
Damn it, I lost my only friend in Adventure Worlds, guess that game is going back on the shelf for me, and I'm down a friend in E&A, let us know when you open your real name account ;-)

On a more serious side, I noticed with G+ and Facebook, the new circles type things actually makes it easier on my real friends. I simply limit who can see these types of posts and if you play these games with me (or if I want you to play these games with me) I add you to that group/circle so you can see the notification. It actually helps me a bit too with making sure real life friends think that I do more in life than just play facebook games all the time.
 
The thing that really bugs me about this, is that it seems like what social media companies can't figure out is that it's not really a question of anonymity, but of information organization. My mom has no idea who Kobeathris is, because he would never post anything that she would be interested in. If Facebook would let me have a few different pseudonyms, I wouldn't really mind if someone could see that they were all mine, so long as I could still control the security of the CONTENT that was visible from each of them. Just like my Mom wouldn't care what Kobeathris has to say, Kobeathris is not interested in what gamers have to say about his mom's vacation.
 
Are you just banned from sending friend requests or is your whole account banned?

Friend request ban happens if you send out too many friend requests and they go unanswered. One shouldn't send out more than a few per day.

If the above is your case just wait a few days and it will unblock. Just don't try and send out more because it will keep you flagged.
 
Do they have any actual proof that you are not Tobold Stoutfoot? If it comes down to it, claim they are on the slippery slope to atheism and try to rally the support of religious groups.

"People on Facebook want to interact with their real friends and the people they know in the real world."
I left facebook for this reason (among others): I want to interact with my real friends and I found that real life was a much better platform for that.
 
If being a 'kind of a big deal' blogger can't get you a Facebook account, what are we doing this for anyway?
 
I'd regard it as a blessing. Facebook's cavalier attitude to privacy is a scourge upon the internet and the fewer users it has the better.
 
Are you just banned from sending friend requests or is your whole account banned?

Whole account banned. As I only send requests to people playing the same games as I do, I don't think I was ever at risk of getting an "too many unanswered requests" ban. Although I must say I'm surprised that those exist.

If being a 'kind of a big deal' blogger can't get you a Facebook account, what are we doing this for anyway?

I'll take that as a compliment. :) I would say that at best I'm 'kind of a big deal' in the extremely narrow field of MMORPG blogging. As in my blog being the first result in a Google search on "MMORPG blog". But if you compare the number of my readers to the number of people on Facebook, this is tiny.
 
And I suspect that this is exactly the reason why I got banned.

Likely. My SO has an account with a fake name, no ban for the moment, but no facebook games played, at the same time. I'll keep you posted.

Makes me want to go and change ALL the data on my account to false information (except my real name, of course), just for the sake of it....
 
Sorry it happened to you because it must be annoying.

I suspect it actually happened because of your internet celebrity. You've been writing for some time about playing Facebook games as Tobold and keeping your real ID secret.

I can't imagine they just pick on people with wierd names and ban them. Mark Zuckenberg for instance doesn't sound very probable.
 
Facebook is evil, and Zuckerberg is the anti-Christ. 'Nuff said.
 
"Do not contact strangers for the purpose of gaining an advantage in a game or application."

This one made me laugh. Have you ever read the comments on the Facebook pages devoted to these games? They are an almost endless stream of "add me!" requests.

You are technically forbidden from being "too" social with these so-called social games. Somebody call Zubon.
 
That you (we) are the product I'm sure is no real surprise; we've been the product for television companies for a long, long time. These F2P games are just the natural extension of that market. That's the cost of anything that appears "free," whether it's TV, F2P games, or .. um... well I ran out of things. You get the point.
Very interesting post.
 
Now all of this makes me think if I should really bother playing all those Facebook games at all. If at one point it could get me banned. And then just ask me to prove if I'm real? Seriously is John Smith sitting behind Tobold any more real to me then the latter one? Is a "real" photo ID enough proof of his existance?

Will just have to sleep it through but at the moment I just feel like removing all FB games I'm playing now. For the moment being I just lost all fun in playing them.
 
The number of Pets and Children under the age of 3 that have facebook pages makes this ban a joke. Pets can have pages, and apparently use it:
- https://www.facebook.com/simonscat
- http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100330085505AA46bCf

Just don't be disheartened and think you're less FB worthy than a strange cat.
 
"You must pester your real world friends for virtual gifts if you don't want to get banned"

Yes that is the idea. At a metadata level FB people "look" a certain way. For example their "friends" all usually share surnames and are geographically compact. Their spanning tree is discrete, cyclic and heavily connected.

FB aliases that are not real stand out like sore thumbs and are easily discovered (lack of friend inter-connectivity being one tip off) at the meta level. I would not worry too much Tobold FB is basically telling you that you appear to be a "marketing type" entity rather than a real person.

In essence you were not banned for being less "real". You were banned for the apparent attempt to use FB to market yourself using their platform. And FB is a marketing platform to make FB money not Tobold. (yes I know you are not commercial but your online FB life seems like marketing).
 
"With the current trend towards demand real IDs everywhere online, I wonder what will happen first: I lose all interest in online games, or all online games and platforms kick me out for not being willing to use my real name?"

Why not create a "real enough" alias?

You could be Tobias Tommlinson from Rotterdam or some such. Why keep with the Tobold motif if it no longer is serviceable in this new reality?

Why not play the name game at the meta level and keep your id to yourself.

It is far easier than you think. After all plenty of Hollywood types have their stage names AND keep their records in their "real names".

Why fight the future? Use it to your advantage.
 
I'm idly curious what Zuckerberg thinks of transgendered folk. I've heard it argued that they have "chosen" to be something other than what they started as. I wonder if Mr. Z. respects that or if the notion of choosing the face you present to the world is uniformly disdained.
 
It is the single most disgusting development in recent years that I can think of. I would curse these people to endure the vile banality of social networking, but I suspect they'd probably enjoy it, if they aren't already. They probably have pages for their pets and infants.

I had the misfortune of experiencing a hard drive failure recently. Upon acquiring a new one and not having any backups, I got to install all my vital software anew.

It's been a while since I've installed any of my vital applications. Normally I just update them.

The new installation experience was... in short, a 1982 nightmare.

To my horror, I discovered that every second fucking application wanted to install a toolbar and become my default search provider. The ones which didn't, demanded my email address (which they immediately proceeded to spam) and/or that I sign up for or sign in to accounts to even begin downloading the application used to access them.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we are the product, the advertisers are the customer. And in most cases, this does NOT make for a good user experience.
 
@Cam: for extra fun, next time you do a reinstall, do it behind a firewall which blocks OUTGOING connections and logs them.

You'll be surprised at the amount of completely non-net-related programs which, even when told "I have no internet", will immediately try to "phone home".

Needless to say, the box/doc/anything never say anything clear about what the data they send home.
 
Facebook strongly and openly discourages "random" friend requests. That's a well known fact. When someone gets pissed (because you spam him or you just randomly try to add him to your list) you risk to be reported and -almost always- warned or banned.

That happens on Google+ too. I got warned once, last week, because I a user wasn't fine with my nick. I had to fix my profile but I suspect I will be warned yet again.

Social networks *need* real names to get some revenue from ads and resell our "privacy" data. Nicknames are useless.

I wish there was a "pay-per-anonymity" option
 
About Zynga games: your analysis is concise and correct. They just force you to hysterically find more "neighbors" to send/receive stuff.

What's even funnier is that if you go to the official game pages, every singe Zynga post is overwhelmed by "ADD ME PLZ... AD ME!!!!" requests. Check Cityville, Farmville or the latest Adventure World.

They don't care, it's free advertising for the game anyways.
 
Great informative comments thread. Thanks to @Angry Gamer and others I am beginning to realise that it is the behaviour of an account that singles it out for a banning and not the fact that it has a fake name. Now I understand why mycattimmy gets to keep his Facebook account but those who spam fake friends for Grindville coins lose theirs.

All in all though it is a black mark against Facebook gaming.
 
Kind of lame dude, and more than a little arbitrary.

If they are banning it now, why bother allowing you to create it in the first place. Makes no sense.
 
You will have a better chance of asking Facebook to reinstate your account than you would asking the various game publishers to refund your money. Facebook acts as a turnstile for your money, taking a cut as the money goes from you to the game company.

"Tobold" is a valid, if not real, identity. You can make that case rather strongly, I think. It's fictional but not a fake identity. I think there is a difference.

And this is all really disappointing. Facebook doesn't serve us, they use us. I am actually going to delete my Facebook account. I am done with them.
 
This is one of the many reasons I despise Facebook and really all the current social media networks. We have no control over our presence there, because as you note, we aren't the customer.

Heck, I don't even think we are the product. We are one of the raw materials that goes into the product.

This is why when my company set out to make our casual web game, Coin 'n Carry (http://www.coinncarry.com), we made the decision NOT to be on Facebook.

A lot of people told us we were nuts, and that we were giving up way too many customers by not being on Facebook.

But putting your game on Facebook puts you completely at the whim of Facebook. They can ban your customers right out from under you! They can trash the API and break your game. They can jack up their cut on Facebook credits. Its insane.
 
(ack. was logged in via the wrong google account. last post was from me)
 
@michael

BANNED from Blogger for pasting under a pseudonym!
 
There are some real world uses if you are an artist or author they can blow all my information up their ass cause no one know what I'm thinking! Just like this comment is taking from me right now. I teeter on the dark side.
 
I wonder how many movie stars have Facebook and Twitter accounts under their stage names?

What is the difference between that and you opening an account under the name 'Tobold'?

Would they have banned John Wayne because his 'RealID' is Marion Morrison?
 
@mbp

Guilty as charged! :P
 
This is the problem for me with facebook's policy on not contacting people you don't know: How do they have the right to determine what counts as knowing someone.

I have a gameplaying account too, and I have lots of friends on that account who I have never met or spoken to face to face. But I also have friends on my real facebook account that I met through WoW who I have never met or spoken to face to face. Meeting someone on a message board for people with a common interest in a game is a completely valid way of meeting another person.

Moreover, I care exactly as much about those people as I do about some of my real facebook friends. The fact that they were in my grade 4 class is good enough for me to accept their friend invitation; but realistically aside from weddings and babies I will never notice anything they do.

Facebook cracking down on pseudonymous accounts is bizarre. I assume they are copying google+, and somehow missing the fact that they are copying the biggest mistake that google+ made.
 
"Do not contact strangers for the purpose of gaining an advantage in a game or application."

This is absolutely asinine. The whole point of gaming online "with" other people is for an advantage to your own gameplay. That statement alone makes it all too clear that Facebook's game is about mining our personal information.

Apparently Facebook doesn't want us to socially network with people who share the same interests and whom we have not yet met. Asinine, I tell you. Ass. I. Nine.
 
My google+ account in the name of Bhagpuss is still working. The fact that I never use it might be aiding its longevity.

I already regret the few online applications/organisations I gave my real name to many years ago. Unless I'm actually buying something and using a payment means that requires authentication, I can see no good reason to give any accurate personal details on the internet ever.
 
It is very strange to get banned for such activity when the official forums for Empires and Allies has an official section just for adding neighbors:

http://forums.zynga.com/forumdisplay.php?f=747

So they take your money and encourage you to break the tos at the same time?
 
The official games forums are run by the games companies, in this case Zynga. The "don't play with strangers" rule is from Facebook. Different companies, different points of view.
 
Since I have 'friends' with names like "DJ OnlyGames" or such, I wonder why your account got picked on.

As for interconnectivity between facebook users, plenty of the people I've added who play one game, also play another, and since I found them on the "add me" threads, I assume that these people are more interconnected than people with lots of "real friends".

Yes, my "main" facebook id is my real name, but I have one that I was using for only gaming that is still open and running fine.
 
You make very good points.

On one hand, it's not nice to spam real-world friends that don't play games. But that leaves us with few options. The only other way to become successful in a Facebook MMOG without spending real money is to connect with strangers, something that many Facebook users are unwilling to do. You could set up multiple accounts, but that's also against Facebook's policies, not to mention that you'll probably get caught even more quickly.

I personally accept all friend requests, but I also have my privacy controls set up such that only established friends can see certain information. So far, it's worked pretty well for me.
 
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