Saturday, October 22, 2016

Facebook Fiasco

It has been a while since my last post, but I intend to post more frequently from now on. There's been a lot going on in my personal life, not the least of which was my mother passing away last Christmas Eve. I'll have a post about that soon as it relates to my lack of activity.

Anyway, after Hurricane Matthew sideswiped Florida and the electricity, phones, Internet, and satellite TV were back up and running, I decided to resume my social media activities, including Facebook. I'd shared a number of posts -- most were promos for other people's work. There were some enticing pictures from my Tumblr account that I shared, but I was very careful that they didn't show any naughty bits.

I'd been put in "Facebook jail" a couple of times, because I'd linked my Twitter and Facebook accounts and a few nipples slipped through. I didn't want that to happen again, so I'd disconnected the accounts and have been very careful ever since. I've even gone so far as to not share links to friends blog posts that displayed a potentially too provocative picture when it was previewed. That made it difficult to share some Masturbation Monday posts, which was a crying shame.

So imagine my surprise when I tried to log on to Facebook last Sunday and my account was locked down. At first, it gave me the dreaded message saying they'd removed some pictures from my Timeline for violating their policies and I was being suspended from posting for seven days. Cursing a blue streak, I vowed to never post another freakin' picture on Facebook.

As I continued jumping through hoops to gain access to my account, I was asked to review pictures I'd uploaded and delete anything objectionable. The two pictures they asked me to review were both JPEGs I'd posted for Labor Day. One just said "Labor Day" with the American flag and the other had the iconic image of Rosie the Riveter -- fully clothed, I might add. Both images are below.

I can't imagine why either image would be objectionable, unless you're anti-feminist, misogynistic, or anti-America. As far as I'm aware, none of those things are acceptable reasons for Facebook to ban a picture, so I chose not to delete either image.

Then, Facebook security said that under their "Real Name" policy, I had to either delete my account if it wasn't under the name I use in real life or provide a photo ID that proved it was my legal name. That brought on a whole new round of cursing.

As a writer of erotica, I choose to use a pen name to protect my privacy and so my extended family remains in blissful ignorance about my dirty little secret. It's not that I'm ashamed about writing erotica; it's just that I don't want to hear a lot of crap about it and I don't want every horny Tom, Dick, or Harry showing up at my doorstep.

Therefore, all my social media accounts have been under my pen name. I didn't know that Facebook would have a problem with this until recently. Sorry, I didn't read the lengthy "Terms of Agreement" -- how many people actually do -- so I didn't realize this was going to be an issue.

After all, I know a lot of people that use something other than their legal name on Facebook for a number of very valid reasons. Some are other writers like myself who need or want to separate their everyday life from their writing life, some just want to socialize while protecting their identities, some are victims of bullying and stalkers, some are expressing their true selves but were legally born as someone else, and some for a whole host of reasons that don't hurt or infringe on anyone else.

Ironically, Facebook's "Real Name" policy was apparently enacted to protect its users, but in many cases it's doing exactly the opposite. Even more ironic is that users can be reported anonymously, setting this whole aggravating process in motion. How is that right or fair? But life is rarely fair, is it?

So someone obviously reported me and set Facebook on my ass. Why? Are they offended by erotica? Was my profile picture too titillating? Were they offended by the link to the People Magazine article I posted about one of their writers being groped by Trump? Or that I said that as a woman who has been groped without my consent (not by Trump), I could understand why Natasha Stoynoff didn't come forward at the time and make a big stink about it? Was it because I wrote that the whole thing had a ring of truth in it that sickened me and that I believed her? Oddly, I did that the day before my account was locked down. As the song goes, "Things that Make You Go Hmmmm . . . "

It doesn't matter. The end result is the same, but I'd love to know who and why.

After my account was locked down, I searched online and found several writers who have had the same problem. One finally managed to get around Facebook with some fancy footwork, but I don't have the time, energy, or means to do what that writer did to get her account back.

For a few hours, I'd resigned myself to not using Facebook anymore. But then, I thought about all the stuff I'd be missing: networking with other writers, participating with groups, events, giveaways, etc., and just socializing with like-minded folks. So I decided to use the Facebook account I had under my legal name, which I hardly ever used, and created a new Author Page for Ria Restrepo. I don't think that violates the rules in any way, but again, I've not read all the fine print.

This is a tricky situation for me, because although I've avoided publicly revealing a connection between my legal name and pen name, I am sure some enterprising person could figure it out. And please, that's not an invitation to do so.

There are limitations to doing this as well. Now, extended family and everyday life acquaintances can see I'm friends with some colorful individuals and possibly get the idea that I'm more "interesting" than they thought. While fans and the public at large can like my Author Page and follow me, they can't "Friend" me unless they know my legal name. I've sent friend requests to all the previous friends I could remember, but I had over four hundred, so I'm missing quite a few. I've trusted a handful of folks to quietly spread the word, which I've found unnerving because I'm outing myself to a certain extent. While many have found me on the new account, some haven't.

If you were Facebook friends with Ria Restrepo and were wondering where I disappeared to, now you know. My new Author Page is here. I'm keeping all the erotic stuff on the Author Page, while sharing more everyday non-erotic stuff on the primary page under my legal name. I'd greatly appreciate it if you could like my Author Page. I'll happily return the favor -- unless you represent something I find truly abhorrent. If you'd like to be "Friends," send me a message from my Author Page and I'll send you a friend request from my primary page. Please, this is not an invitation to hit on me or try to "hook up."

As for the troglodyte that reported me to Facebook, I hope it gave you the sense of power and satisfaction you crave. I'm all for getting people off. It's just a shame that my desire to entertain inspires some people to be petty and vindictive.   

All the best,

Ria Restrepo