BACKGROUND: One customer account with several personal pages on humor and criminology.
DISABLEMENT OF ADS: Without notice (online or email) Facebook unilaterally disabled advertising privileges.
SIDENOTE 1: Customer had been advertising with Facebook for years, including as recently as a week before ads were disabled.
SIDENOTE 2: Customer publishes on the criminology statistics of gun violence, but makes no political points. Facebook has agreed to the non-political position by repeatedly running ads in the past for the customer’s book and for posts with interesting insights.
THE “SUPPORT” DEBACHAL:
Day 1: Disablement reported to Facebook. Same day, Facebook says:
- “I was able to confirm that the Account is currently restricted and it could possibly be because it has been non-compliant with the Advertising policies on the platform.”
- “As of the moment, we have limited visibility to check on the specific reason as to why your account has been flagged …” Facebook’s internal “support” systems are broken.
- “best option is to file an appeal for a manual review”. However, the “appeal” button is disabled, and this was reported to Facebook.
- Later in the day, another useless “support” reply:
o “to protect your privacy, our Policy’s integrity, and our system from circumvention, we are unable to access the actual details of the review to provide specific reasons for your restriction.” First reply said they lacked visibility, next that policy prevents them from accessing these details. One problem, two excuses.
o Reply from Facebook provides useless “help” pages.
Day 2: No response from Facebook, despite their “support” email promising to reply in 24 hours.
Day 3: Contacted Facebook again. In our prodding, we explained that if they cannot identify why the account was disabled, not escalate, they should enable the account. Doing so (a) might let us see what, if any problem exists and (b) as a customer service quality and expectations move, make a customer happy instead of angry.
- “to protect your privacy, our Policy’s integrity, and our system from circumvention, we have limited visibility to the actual details of the review and reasons for the restriction.” (repeat)
- “please provide … Screenshot of your account status.”. Done.
- Then many links to “help” pages that were pointless in resolving the issue (repeat)
Day 4: No response from Facebook despite their 24-hour promise. Nudged them again.
Day 5: Facebook replied:
- “to protect your privacy, our Policy’s integrity, and our system from circumvention, we are unable to access the actual details of the review to provide specific reasons for your restriction.” (repeat)
- “I have also tried to escalate the account but I was not able to”. Having created and led support teams, I can attest that a failure to escalate after four days for a vendor-created problem is a failing of the “support” agent, the “support” team, the team culture or the corporate culture … or all of the above.
- “can you send me a whole page screenshot”.
o We had already done that (see above) but did it again.
o Facebook never specifies a method for sending the screen shot, and we now suspect that (a) sending it via email doesn’t work and (b) there is no clearly documented alternative.
- A later reply said, “if it is okay, can you provide a screenshot from your account quality”
Day 6: After providing a link to this article to Meta, they suggested a phone call and we chose Day 7 from the available options.
Day 7: Meta did not call, unilaterally closed the case (which disabled asking for updates and clarifications), and Meta was initially was unresponsive to outreach.
Opened a new “support” ticket, had an online chat. The new support person was unable to view the previous case, which meant repeating everything that had previously been communicated to Facebook. After that, customer was transferred to another department.
Their new statement (contradicting old statements) contained five bullets, each of which was either (a) wrong, (b) slanderous, or (c) outside of the customer’s control.
The oddity is that Facebook now claims (a) “the decision was final and we cannot make any appeal” and that the restriction is permanent. This is instructive because there exist in their five bullet points multiple misstatements. To make misstatements and negate any path of appeal (outside of litigation) strips the customer of access which they had with Facebook for many years.
Day 8: Another email claiming that Facebook is “unable to access the actual details of the review to provide specific reasons for your restriction.” This is clearly false.
But the list of alleged reasons for the account suspension gets more obtuse. Aside from alleged “ad violations”, despite the clint having run ads for years without violations (some mistakenly flagged by Facebook were successfully appealed), Facebook next claims our client [a] circumvented ad review process or other enforcement systems (blatantly false and actually slanderous), [b] deceptive and inauthentic behavior (blatantly false and actually slanderous) and [c] suspicious or violating networks or associations, which Facebook does not even define.
As reported to Facebook often, our client occationally incurs the wrath of political hacktavist, and they routines try to break security on our client’s website, Facebook page and Twitter accounts. This evidence has been ignored by Facebook.
Day 14: Client has discovered that additionally his three unrelated media pages (humor, music, criminology) no longer all for assigning roles to team members (editors, moderators, etc.). Whatever internal activist disabled ads also disabled bassic management functionality of the unrelated pages.
Day 15: For our client, Meta has twice done something horrible in terms of customer support. They write
“Case [sic] like this are best dealt with over the phone so we can converse better, please feel free to let us know your preferred callback schedule from the list below:”
Our client responded in less than 24 hours in both instances, and less than an hour in the second instance. Meta nevered called in either instance and closed the case after 48 hours despite our client responding quickly and repeatedly (including follow-up emails 5-10 minutes after the appointment time when nobody from Meta called).
Day 16: Meta support replied via email because our client replied to their email every day to prevent Meta’s “must reply within 48 hours” rule from automatically closing the case. Again, Meta copy/pasted the same statements as before, all still unfounded and without evidence.
They also, for the third time (a) suggested using the “appeal” button despite (b) our client having told them three times that the appeal button had also been disabled.
A POINT: I suspect Meta’s support teams are incented to close cases quickly. This is a bad policy that tech companies have made for ages, which cases incomplete resolutions and “lazy” behaviors such as copy/pasting canned responses instead of understanding the customer’s situation. The continual bypassing the the “disabled appeal button” report shows that people within Meta are not even reading the customer’s emails.
Day 18: Meta replied “our Internal Team has come to the final decision even after I have made another appeal to consider the request,” and quite comically added “We strive to ensure that every customer is satisfied in doing business with us.”
Lessons on Customer Support
- Not being able to get info: That the support agent cannot (or will not) discover what the alleged policy violations are is a key problem. Since the Facebook customer pages (a) do not show why and (b) disabled even common appeals mechanisms, this is mission #1 for the support agent, to which they failed.
- No path to escalate: Since the initiation of the problem, and the masking of the problem were caused by Facebook, there has to be a clear and urgent escalation process. Either there isn’t one, or the “support” agent lacked to gumption to find and use it.
- Repeating uselessness: The repeating of bad links, unhelpful “help” pages, requests for info already sent, and obviously defective excuses indicates the Facebook “support” agent does not reread their cases. This increases customer resentment and avoids solving the problem.
- Making false promises of assistance: Offering to converse via telephone and never making the appointment is an extreme form of customer abandonment. That Meta did it multiple times if quite unforgivable.
The customer had been blocked by political activists within Facebook before.
The short telling is that the customer created a post concerning some aspect of gun use in crime. He “boosted” the post to gain audience share, which is the purpose of the “boost” button.
Facebook blocked the boost, and then provided four different excuses for the blocking. First they said it was political (it was a pie chart about criminology). When appealed, Facebook then claimed it might incite violence (how a pie chart incites violence is still a mystery). Then they claimed the customer sold weapons, though they literally sold nothing (the closet they came was having links to Amazon book about criminology on their web page). Two other nonsensical excuses were provided until we intervened on their behalf.
It is worth noting that the customer had run an ad on Facebook for their book on the criminology of gun violence, without objection from Facebook, shortly before the suspension (since Meta did not notify the customer about any alleged violations or the account suspension, it is impossible to tell when the suspension occured, but from the date of the previously run ad to discovering account suspension was at most 14 days).
To care for customers requires that all employees care for customers. In this case study, Facebook demonstrated a lack of concern, a lack of clear communications, a lack of alternatives, a lack of creative gumption in finding the cause or escalating the problem.
This is a sign of a corporate and department culture malfunction. In short, either or both Facebook (company) or “Meta Support” as a department care about customer success. A lack of customer success will lead to abandonment, brand degradation and lower shareholder returns.
#Facebook or #Meta, see job 725669302503285 and 1946582529015827