When Facebook kicks you in the teeth

Most of the time when I talk about social media and the law I talk about the fine print and how these services are often not subject to your control and all sorts of things can happen to your pages/profiles without your consent. Most of the time I am thinking more about outages and glitches in the Matrix but there is a far more willful course of action that presents a real danger to your continued use of those services.

Facebook booted Rodrigo Shulz, an “Internet entrepreneur and business angel” who has been around the block a couple times for being a little too vigorous with the service. In a nutshell, Rodrigo is a genealogy nut and was trying to connect with members of his family tree and pass some info on to them about a group he created for a branch of the family tree. It turns out he was being a little too social and Facebook disabled his account about 73 seconds after he was warned to take it easy with all the socialising.

This morning I started adding family members again. I got a 2nd warning email today, and a disabled account email 73 seconds later. Waow… As if you read your emails immediately… Worse than a cease & desist.

This is yet another illustration of how users of these sorts of services use those services at the whim of the providers. You simply don’t have an unqualified right to use Facebook and you can expect to be kicked out or otherwise spanked if you step out of line. The message from Facebook seems pretty clear: be social, just not too social.

Oh, and this isn’t just a dig at Facebook. The next service to pull a stunt could be Google, FriendFeed or some other crowd. One way to see what your limits are is to read the fine print, as much of a pain in the butt that is. You are not in control of your profile/online presence and you need to assume your access could be taken away from you. One option is to look for a service that won’t pull a stunt like that for no good reason and without giving you a decent chance to respond meaningfully.

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