Getting locked out of Facebook or prevented from posting, really sucks! Many of us depend on Facebook every day for social, professional and even educational use and so getting locked out or unable to post content even just for a few days can really have an impact. With over 2 billion people on the platform, it is also a target for spammers, data harvesters, hackers and other malicious uses (like influencing elections). So Facebook (and other platforms) use various technologies like artificial intelligence to help determine inappropriate content or activity. Since these decisions and the flagging around content are done by computers and not humans, there will inevitably be mistakes. For instance, how can a machine reliably determine the difference between a spammer frequently posting the same spam content on many groups, and an over-zealous poster sharing a great photo/quote across all their self help groups? For some people with a large following on Facebook and who depend on the platform for business, education or sharing knowledge, the loss of their Facebook account can be devastating. Here are TEN TIPS on how to avoid the Facebook Jail and improve your News Feed so you see more of what you like, and less of what you do not like.

(1) DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY

Facebook is NOT TARGETING YOU PERSONALLY. You would not think that your toaster had a personal vendetta against you if it burned your toast. Same thing with Facebook when it blocks you or removes content the first time – its a MACHINE (algorithm) making the decision. And although I don’t have actual numbers I am betting that 90% or more of the time the algorithms used by Facebook GET IT RIGHT and remove malicious, offensive, copyrighted or spammy content – for our benefit. The thing is, we NEVER SEE the bad content that was removed, but we sure notice being blocked/jailed when our own content is flagged, and it seems/feels personal. It is NOT PERSONAL and these algorithms are FOR YOUR BENEFIT and the vast majority of time they do a GREAT JOB of keeping spam or malicious content out of our News Feed. You just don’t notice it.

(2) READ/KNOW THE RULESREAD THE RULES 

Don’t try to con/game the system or intentionally violate the Facebook Terms of Service or Community Standards. If you get pulled over for speeding and try to tell the officer “I did not know that 30kmph was the limit”, you will STILL GET A TICKET. Ignorance of the laws/rules will not protect you and you will have nobody else but yourself to blame if you are banned or blocked temporarily for violating the Facebook Terms of Service or Community Standards. Some common examples include: Using a FAKE NAME or using a BUSINESS NAME for a Personal Profiles.

(3) CHALLENGE FALSE/POSITIVES

ALWAYS challenge/report a false/positive block. By reporting a block which you feel was not done for valid reasons, you are helping to train the algorithms used by Facebook so they can be “smarter” and do a better job of distinguishing between legitimate spam and over-zealous poster’s.

(4) PACE YOUR POSTS

Frequent (Facebook does not share what “frequent” means) posting, liking, even on your own News Feed, can look like “spammy” behaviour so you can get blocked simply by posting or “liking” too frequently. You can also use social media management tools to automatically post at set intervals which can help streamline the posting process and ensure they are spaced adequately in time.

(5) AVOID POSTING THE SAME CONTENT

Try not to post the same content or images on multiple groups in a short time span as this looks exactly like spammy behaviour. Space them out, alter the content slightly, use a different image etc. Also be careful of where you source your images. If you use Google to locate images and they are copyrighted or were flagged by Google for any reason, Facebook is also likely to flag the image/post.

(6) BE SELECTIVE WHO YOU FRIEND

Be selective about who you allow as a friend on Facebook. The more people you have as friends on Facebook who are not someone you actually know, the more random strangers you accept friend requests from, the more likely you will get spam or other inappropriate content on your News Feed. Also, the more random strangers you accept friend requests from, the more likely one or more may take a disliking to you or for some other reason, report one or more of your posts. They can be completely false and made-up reasons but reporting content will usually get it blocked automatically by the algorithms and your only recourse is to DISPUTE/REPORT the block so a human can review the block. But repeated malicious (but false) reports of your content can still lead to REMOVAL OF YOUR ACCOUNT through no fault of your own and it may be difficult, if not impossible to get your account back. It is also a good idea to review your friend list once in awhile and remove or unfollow those who’s content is no longer of value to you.

(7) BE VERY CAREFUL WITH CONTESTS

You can’t post a message on your wall and call it a contest. This is a violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service. Facebook has VERY strict guidelines around how to run contests and promotional posts. If you participate in a contest through Facebook and it is later determined to have violated the Facebook Terms of Service, your account could also get flagged/blocked. BE VERY VERY VERY CAREFUL creating your own contests and make absolutely certain you have READ THE FACEBOOK RULES around contests and promotions. One very important rule/example is that you CANNOT REQUIRE ANY FACEBOOK ACTIONS (Likes, Shares, etc.) as part of entry to the contest. Another important rule about contests is that ALL CONTESTS on Facebook MUST take place through a 3RD PARTY APP.

(8) BE SELECTIVE WITH APPLICATIONS

Sure all those cutesy little games and time-wasters like “What Would You Look Like in 20 Years”, “Change Your Facebook Theme” or “Your Most Popular Words on Facebook” seem like innocent fun, but EVERY APPLICATION YOU INSTALL can also collect data from you and in some cases exploit it or create a privacy risk (see Cambridge Analytica Scandal). You may only use the feature/app once, but after it’s installed it will continue collecting data from you in the background. Also, all sorts of malware, account hijacking, social-engineering and phishing takes place through or as a result of many of these innocent looking apps so be VERY selective about which ones you install and every once in awhile go through your applications and delete those you no longer use

(9) REVIEW/EDIT YOUR NEWS FEED PREFERENCES

You actually have far more control over the content on your Facebook News Feed than you may think. The things that determine what show up op on your New Feed are determined by many factors like the personal/demographic information you share, the posts and pages you “Like”, the groups you join, the people on your friends list, the content you post, what you search for (on Facebook or Google) and since WhatsApp and Instagram are also owned by Facebook, your behaviour on ALL THESE PLATFORMS is cross-matched and aggregated to create ONE USER PROFILE for targeted posts, ads and promotions. So it is VERY IMPORTANT to review your settings for security, post visibility, content shared with 3rd parties and your NEWS FEED PREFERENCES. On the desktop, you can find these under ”Settings” and “News Feed Preferences” by clicking on the down-arrow next to the question mark in the circle at the top right corner of Facebook.

Facebook Settings

News Feed Preferences

(10) DON’T BE A DICK

This one should be obvious. DON’T BE A DICK. Profanity, abuse, offensive or objectionable content, fake stories, malicious behavior etc, can all get you blocked temporarily or BANNED completely from Facebook. If you wouldn’t behave that way or say those things to your grandmother, then don’t behave that way or say/post those things on Facebook. DON’T BE A DICK!