Recently a new “friend” I’ve acquired through Facebook just disappeared in the middle of our conversation. One day I get a message from the new friend in my Facebook inbox asking for a time for us to get together to speak about our respective new projects and the next I get an error message from my response to him noting he is no longer listed as one of my Facebook friends. Hmmm. Did I cross the line in some way with this new friend? Had he mistaken me for another Michael Garrity and just realized it? Is there a bug in the Facebook system caused by the tremendous volume of activity at the site? Suddenly I feel like one of those characters from the cell phone ads who get dropped by the network at an inappropriate time on their call.
At Facebook there was no way of telling what had occurred and there was no other information available (and certainly no 1-800 number to call). So I went back to the search function to find him again. Low and behold he is completely off the grid. He simply no longer exists on Facebook. Now that’s strange, I think. This particular friend had a network of over 3000 people hooked into his profile and was part of more groups in Facebook than I thought possible. He was what I would call a “super-user” of the site, a total evangelist for the Facebook cause. Now I start wondering whether this was him at all. Maybe this was a case of stolen identity and now this person has valuable information about me from our conversation. My mind is racing, I’m concerned and I’m questioning my privacy settings at Facebook. So, I send him an old fashion safe and reliable email to check up on the problem.
Well, this story has a conclusion. He was removed from Facebook for, get this, being too active a user. His “super-use” was what got him suspended from Facebook and, as it turns out, he is not alone. For those of you not familiar with the story, this friend is none other than local blogger and Buzz Canuck, Sean Moffit . He has blogged specifically about this experience here on his popular blog. As Sean notes in his blog, he is in good company. Many of the super-users of Facebook have been booted off the system specifically for their super-use, including folks as high profile as author and internet guru, Guy Kawasaki. Super-use at Facebook HQ, it seems, is deemed suspicious behaviour and given the massive scale of the operation and the relatively small staff at Facebook, it is just easier to suspend the account and get to it when they can, rather than to proactively deal with the user.
Sean is back on line with Facebook now but with a sour taste in his mouth. As you can read in his blog post, Facebook may have turned one of its biggest local evangelists against it. My conclusion is this. If you want to be a “platform” and to play at the $100 Billion level, than you better be prepared to tackle problems like this quickly. Unless Facebook finds a way of dealing with this negative element of their customer service model, they will turn the Seans of their service from super users into super detractors.