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Facebook: Popular, Yes, but Trustworthy?

As we all probably know, Facebook is a phenomenon that has taken Internet users young and old by storm. It is a popular way to network socially, find lost old friends, and arrange class reunions or other gatherings. So, you might ask, why am I writing an article about Facebook? Because while it is popular, it is not free of its problems as well.

The first and most important issue is the popularity of the various games and other applications that are available. While most are harmless and just ways to burn free time, there are others that can potentially infect your computer with trojan horses, viruses, or other infections, especially if you do not have a good antivirus software (such as Norton Security or Kaspersky Antivirus). It is very easy to become infected, especially if one uses either Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Edge or Mozilla's Firefox as his web browser of choice. The reason being that Internet Explorer (and Edge, the browser built into Windows 10) leaves so many security holes open that it is essentially like having no security at all. (Thankfully, a good antivirus such as the two mentioned previously tends to stop attacks permitted by Internet Explorer's deficiencies.) Firefox, on the other hand, is designed to use Java and Javascript (just like all other web browsers) but it, just like Internet Explorer, leaves the security so low that it may as well have no security options at all. Can Firefox be corrected to shore up its defenses? Yes, but that breaks other functionality within the software, so it essentially is not a good option. (Besides this, Firefox also has huge memory leaks that make it undesirable. That is covered in the Web Browsers article.)

What is the best option if the two most commonly used web browsers are out of the running? Google Chrome. Yes, there is a new browser out to replace Internet Explorer on Windows 10-enabled devices (Microsoft Edge) but it is little more than a reworking of Internet Explorer that has the same security issues that Internet Explorer has always had. Why come out with it then? The same reason that Outlook Express and Hotmail.com have kept getting their names changed: to try to escape the negativity associated with them due to their major problems, especially in regard to security. However, this is a topic for another article.

So, besides potential infections, why else might you not want to use Facebook? Because it is very insecure. A perfect example is my personal account. I had a Facebook for two years which I used off and on. In June 2010, I wanted to log into it as I got a message from someone I wanted to read. Upon entering my login credentials, I got a message saying that they had disabled my account due to violating their policies. When inquiring about this, I was told that I either (a) had impersonated someone rather than being who I said I was or (b) had set up more than one account on the website. Neither of these was true, so I inquired for information. Their only response was that their decision was final. I forwarded this to my legal team as this put not only my professional name but also my business name (as I published the details of Best Deal Computers in that account) into a bad light. Up to this time, Facebook has not been forthcoming with any information regarding their decision and, thus, have been unable to back up their claim that I have done anything contrary to their established policies.

How might they be justified in making this decision? If they can show for a fact that I had set up another account for misuse of the system or that they can show some sort of documentation that shows that I am not truly myself or that I am not truly the owner of Best Deal Computers. Until such time, they are disallowing my legitimate and appropriate use of the website. While this is not criminal in nature (as it is their website and, thus, they can set whatever rules they want for its use), it is potentially actionable in civil court.


Seeing as how it had been nearly five years since the above incident, I decided that I would set up a new account. In January 2015, I created a new account for personal use only: I did not tie it to the business as I was not about to put my business name on the line with this questionable enterprise once again. I would use the account only for the pursuit of hobbies and camaraderie with those whom I know personally. Over the next sixteen months, I was able to use the account successfully without any major issues regarding my ability to access the account. (They did allow certain accounts that made spam posts of pornography to remain on their service despite seeming to violate their community standards: they actually told me that screenshots of hardcore intercourse were acceptable and that my complaints to the Facebook team were all but ignored. However, that did not lead to my inability to use the account, only to my realization that they were even more moronic in their decision-making capability than ever!)

Yesterday morning, I got up and checked my Facebook account to see what my friends had been doing while I slept and found that it was a friend's birthday. As I didn't have time then to come up with a clever way to honor his day, I resolved to do so later in the day when I returned from appointments with clients. Several hours later, I returned and tried to use my account. Rather than logging in automatically as it had in the past, it asked me to enter my credentials. Lo and behold, the buffoons at Facebook had disabled this account. I tried to find out what the story was and got an automated response saying that they wanted me to verify my identity. As I was not willing to send them a copy of my driver license due to that having too much information that can be used for identity theft, I looked into their policies to see what else they would accept. I ended up sending them a long laundry list of items that they said were acceptable: scan of a utility bill (I sent four), scan of a club photo ID (I sent one), and much more. The response I received was one saying that, as with the previous issue from, at this point, six years ago, I am not who I say I am. How could that be when, according to their "real name" policy, they could clearly see that the name I used on my account was the same as that used on all the other documentation that I provided them? (At least this time around they did let me send in documentation. Six years ago, they did not.)

Previously I said that I was sure that I was not the first one to be harassed by Facebook in such a fashion. It seems that there is an entire class of folks who have been so harassed, some of whom have gotten their accounts back but others have not. This article talks about others who have been so victimized by those of the Facebook team who claim to be interested in protecting its members from harassment or other online nuisances. Facebook itself is now the one perpetrating these violations of its own policies!

Also, as you may be aware, they have gotten into much public muck recently by being shown to censor the politics of those with whom they disagree (most notably anyone who believes in freedom of religion, the issue of pro-choice, and so forth). They allow those who agree with their politics to run rabid and even allow those who are enemies of the United States to freely use their site for recruiting new folks into their terrorist cells but confiscate the accounts of good, honest, hard-working folks whose opinions are more conservative in nature.

For these reasons, I cannot and will not in good conscience be able to recommend for any reason. Be forewarned that use of their website could potentially put your information at risk of being compromised. There is no telling what happens to the accounts they seize or who has access to them once they are out of your control.