I came off Facebook, and now I'm in no-admin page hell

Frustrated person on the phone

So, Facebook was fun for a while - about ten years ago. With a small group of friends on Facebook, we could joke, and moan, and say outrageous things online. We got angry at May, we got angry at Brexit, we got angry at Boris, and we got angry at Trump. We raged against injustice and animal torture and environmental destruction. We 'liked' art, and laughed at funny videos, and reminisced.

While I was on Facebook, I bought an old Silver Reed typewriter in a charity shop, and my friend and I thought it would be amusing for it to have its own Facebook page where we posted pictures of the machine supposedly typing out rude messages.

That was then. In 2018, the whole Cambridge Analytica involvement in the Brexit campaign was exposed. By this time, I had kind of worked out that Facebook was providing this Matrix-like environment in which we played solely so that it could harvest our most personal data and flog it to highest bidders. I followed the lengthy instructions to permanently delete my Facebook account. I grieved for a while, and then I did something else with my life.

I had thought the Silver Reed typewriter page would be deleted as well, but it stayed there - now orphaned from its old admin. A few weeks ago, my friend messaged me to ask me to remove her as editor from the Silver Reed page. She now has her own counselling page on Facebook, and it was getting confusing knowing which page she was posting to. I said, sure, but I began to realise that this might be tricky.

It is virtually impossible to contact Facebook if you don't have a Facebook account. Even if you manage to get to a page on Facebook, it covers up half the screen with messages encouraging you to "see more of XYZ on Facebook" by creating your own Facebook account. Any support pages that you look at assume that you're already in the Facebook family, and you can just "click on this menu" or "check your settings".

If you do finally find a form to fill in, it relies on you being being logged in. There is no direct way of contacting them by email or by phone - Facebook has created a virtual support shield around itself to prevent any access.

If you can't find your answer in the support pages, you're encouraged to post in the Facebook community forum. This is a short example of the quality of comments in the forum - it resembles something from a Beckett play:

Screenshot of Facebook support forum comments

So impenetrable is the shield around Facebook, that fraudsters have found an opportunity in users' frustration with not getting answers. Interspersed in the mindless utterances and stock answers are multiple comments along the lines:

Facebook Helpline# -{{+I ৪ ৪ ৪}+5 O 5 +5444.}}

The unorthodox format of the phone number should suggest that something is not right. When I Googled for more information, I found an interesting scam, as described in this NPR article.

Calling the number won't get you any help, and a fraudster on the other end of the line will attempt to part you from your money - don't phone it.

Eventually, I found a route in via a request to erase my data under GDPR legislation. Now I actually thought this might have been a good plan, seeing as:

  • I'd created the page
  • I'd deleted my Facebook account, and
  • Now I wanted Facebook to finish the job by deleting my page

No such luck. Now I had a real person answering my email, but still they just fed me stock answers and suggested I post in the forum. I replied trying to explain my problem, but in response I got - "I see this page has an admin - why don't you reach out to them?" Yes, the page does have an admin - it's me, Dominic Francocci, in a previous Facebook life. After a few emails back and forth, they finally ghosted me - unable to provide me with any more irrelevant answers.

So, what's the take away from this? If your problem is straightforward, then Facebook probably has a canned response for you, and you'll be happy. But if you need technical support, like I did, then - forget it. There's no route to creating a support ticket, and no confidence that anything you report will be looked into. Considering the revenue that Facebook are making out of advertising on Facebook pages, you'd think they could invest some of it in supporting their customers. Looks like they just don't give a shit.

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