Facebook is Screwing BlakeWrites Over... and There's Nothing We Can do About It

I had scheduled a completely different blog post for today, but after 28 days of tech support hell, I rescheduled the original post and decided to sit down and write this one.

Facebook has screwed over BlakeWrites after taking several hundred dollars from us and refuses to fix the issue that they caused. If you've noticed that the BlakeWrites page hasn't posted there for nearly a month, it's because we can't. Here's what happened.

Heads-Up: This is a long post. The TL;DR is that Facebook has banned the BlakeWrites page from posting due to a technical error in their ads platform that they refuse to fix since queer voices without a multi-million dollar budget don't matter to them.

BlakeWrites' Week of Facebook Growth

Back in November, I took an entire week off of work to devote time to taking on some projects for BlakeWrites that I had been wanting to do for a while. One such project was to experiment with paid advertising on Facebook to help our social media presence grow.

At first, it was working beautifully. The BlakeWrites page managed to accumulate nearly 1,200 new page likes in a matter of days and I was getting really good insights into the type of content that resonated with our audience. I felt incredibly optimistic, and was getting ready to start round two of paid advertising. It was the most money I had ever spent on promoting BlakeWrites, but I was willing to continue to spend money because I was happy with the results.

For those who don't know, BlakeWrites is entirely self-funded at this point. I am in the early stages of reaching out to advertisers and sponsors to generate revenue, but up to this point everything we have paid for for BlakeWrites– domains, content, advertising, software– has come out of my personal paycheck. While a $300 advertising campaign may only be a drop in the bucket for a company like Facebook, it's a significant investment for me.

Toward the end of my week of Facebook advertisement merriment, I decided to try out some of my best performing content in a new region. I created ad-friendly graphics for each piece of content and went to set up the ads. That's where things went wrong. One of the articles I was promoting– this one, which reviews several underwear brands– understandably contains an image of a man in his underwear.

While I was setting up my ad, Facebook crawled the URL and pulled in the image of the man in his underwear. I promptly replaced that image with the custom graphic I had created and edited the variously sized versions of the ad to all use the same custom graphic. In doing so, however, Facebook generated a "post" for each ad size using the old image inside the blog post. I didn't know this at the time, because within Facebook Ads Manager, there were no red flags. Everything worked as expected. My ad got approved and started circulating in Brazil so that I could gather data about how a Brazilian audience would respond to that content.

When I logged out of Facebook Business Manager and into my personal Facebook account, however, I realized there was a problem. I tried to navigate to BlakeWrites' Facebook page and saw a banner telling me that my content violated Facebook's community guidelines. I clicked into the Page Quality section of our page to see what had been flagged. Corresponding with the time that I was working on my ad campaign, there was a series of twelve posts within a few milliseconds of each other that contained the image of a man in his underwear. These posts contained partial sentences and raw JSON– a clear indicator that these were not posts made by a person, but rather post drafts that had been generated via API.

Because Facebook thought I had tried to post something that was apparently a bit too suggestive (I should add that the image was entirely non-sexual; you could tell that the person in the photo had a penis, but it's not like the image was focused on his glans or testicles or anything like that), they had blocked me from being able to make any posts as the BlakeWrites page. This immediately broke all of the integrations that I use to manage that page and it also meant that all the new followers I had accumulated from my ad campaign would be unable to see any new content from me. That's a death sentence for creating an engaged social media community.

From Successful Ad Campaign to a Month (and Counting) of Tech Support Hell

I tried to find a solution amidst Facebook's embarrassingly paltry support documentation and eventually found that I could either request an appeal or accept the decision. From the way the documentation sounded, it seemed like requesting an appeal would require several days to review but would strike the infraction from my page record whereas accepting the decision seemed like the infraction would stay on my page record but would be the fastest way to regain access to my page. Foolishly, I accepted the decision thinking I'd have access within a day or two.

Nope. Accepting the decision did not restore my access, so I contacted Facebook advertiser support for assistance. The concierge who I first worked with was incredibly helpful– he understood that my page was flagged in error, was sympathetic to the mistake that I made on my end in accepting the decision, and promptly filed a report for their internal team to review.

That, however, is where things really went downhill. Upon filing the issue with their internal team, the concierge opened an email chain with me so that we could stay in touch and he could update me on their process. I'm going to include the entire conversation below for transparency, but here's a summary of what has happened thus far:

  1. I waited nearly two weeks without an update and emailed the concierge to see if he could let me know of the status of my case.
  2. The concierge informed me that he followed up with the internal team and requested an update.
  3. I receive an email from a different concierge letting me know that my case had been reviewed and that I should have access to my page again.
  4. I login to Facebook and see that I still cannot publish from the BlakeWrites Facebook page. I take a screenshot of the error I'm seeing and follow-up again.
  5. The case goes back to the internal team to review.
  6. I'm again told that I should have access to publish from my page. I don't.
  7. The process repeats; I send a screenshot and offer to get on a screenshare with an engineer or collect a HAR file to assist with the troubleshooting process, but all I'm told is that the internal team will review the situation.
  8. More days and days of silence.
  9. I follow-up for a third time and am told that the best course of action is to submit a new form describing the situation for the internal team to review (again).
  10. I do, and am told that I should hear back in approximately 48 hours.
  11. Five days pass without any update.
  12. I follow-up yet again asking for an update and am told– by another concierge– that the ban is temporary and should be lifted within 30 days. At this point, I'm 26 days into being banned. So, I request for clarification as to whether that would be 30 days since the initial ban or 30 days since the review since that would make the difference between being able to publish again in 2019 or having to wait until almost February 2020 to be able to publish again.
  13. I don't get an answer to that question. Instead, I am told that the internal team would not change their decision and that all I can do is wait.

That means that I've waited nearly an entire month without being able to publish to my business Facebook page and have even been told on several separate occasions that my publishing permissions were banned in error only to have Facebook turn around and tell me that they're not going to do anything about it, and to not even give me a straight answer about when I would be able to publish again.

I have poured two years of hard work and several thousand dollars of my own money into building and growing BlakeWrites. I love this website so much and want to do everything I can to nurture its growth and build its platform. I truly believe in the good that we can do by creating a community of content for today's men that empowers them to live authentically and outside of the constraints of toxic masculinity. This entire time, Facebook has been one of my main sources of traffic and one of the primary tools I've used to put our content in front of new readers. Now, that's not possible. It's not even an option due to an issue that Facebook has acknowledged was a mistake on their end yet they refuse to fix.

I am heartbroken. I am hurt. I can't help but think that if my marketing budget was in the millions instead of the hundreds, this would have already been resolved. But, I can't even get a concierge manager on the phone with me to give me concrete answers and a timeline for resolution. All I get are canned responses that concierges copy and paste into their emails and the implicit message that my publication is not important enough (read: giving them enough money) for them to do any work.

As mentioned above, the email conversation that has occurred since I first contacted Facebook support is included below. I've tried to clean up the formatting as much as possible since I'm having to copy and paste this from my email and I have redacted the names of Facebook's support concierge staff since they are not directly responsible for this issue.

A Very Long Email Thread of Nearly 30 Days of Bullshit

Fri, Nov 22, 2019 at 10:34 AM

Hi Blake,

Thank you for contacting Facebook advertising support. My name is [REDACTED] and we chatted earlier on regarding your page access. I have informed my team to look into the concern you have faced.

While it can be difficult to estimate how long it takes to resolve due to the technical nature and complexity of the issue, we will continue to keep you posted on any updates. Rest assured, that I'll be following up on your issue closely and will be updating you via this email thread once I received updates from the team. For your reference, here's your Case ID: [REDACTED].

We do apologize for the inconvenience caused and thank you for your continuous support. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach back out to me by replying to this email.

Thank you for advertising with Facebook.

Have a great day ahead!

[REDACTED]

Concierge |Facebook Support To learn more about growing your business on Facebook, visit https//fb.me/learn-blueprint

 

M, Blake Reichenbach Sat, Nov 30, 2019 at 11:40 AM To: Facebook

Hey [REDACTED],

Hope you’re doing well and are enjoying the holiday. I just wanted to check in on this and see if there were any updates.

I’m getting a bit anxious about having my page access restored since this has been going on for a while and occurred due to an error rather than something I actively posted.

All the best, Blake

Sent from my iPhone

 

Facebook Mon, Dec 2, 2019 at 11:09 AM Reply-To: Facebook To: "M, Blake Reichenbach"

Hi Blake,

Thanks for reaching out to us. My name is [REDACTED] and I am responding on behalf of [REDACTED]. It's great to hear that you enjoyed the holidays.

On our end, the block has already been lifted. Are you still experiencing any issues or errors? If you still are, please send us a screenshot of the error message that you're receiving.

NOTE: Our system is set up to close out cases that have gone more than 48 hours without a response. If you're unable to get back to me within that time frame, you may get an email regarding the case being closed and a survey. Not to worry if that happens, you can still reply to this email and I’ll be able to help, or you can chat back into us and we will be able to reference this interaction at that time as well.

All the best,

[REDACTED]

Concierge | Facebook Support To learn more about growing your business on Facebook, visit https://fb.me/learn-blueprint

 

M Blake Reichenbach Mon, Dec 2, 2019 at 11:59 AM To: Facebook

Hey [REDACTED],

Thanks for following up. I've attached a screenshot of what I'm seeing on my page.

While I am allowed to make a post to my page from my personal account, I cannot make posts as the page. This is preventing me from being able to use multiple integrations or connecting with my page audience as the BlakeWrites account.

Best,

Blake

 

Facebook Mon, Dec 2, 2019 at 2:47 PM Reply-To: Facebook To: M Blake Reichenbach

Hi Blake,

This is [REDACTED] Thank you very much for your patience on the matter. I've went ahead and raised this again to our internal team to have this reviewed for you.

Please allow more time for this and rest assured that this I had requested that this be reviewed thoroughly. Your satisfaction is our happiness!

Thanks for your contacting Facebook. Have a nice day!

Kind Regards,

[REDACTED]

Concierge |Facebook Support To learn more about growing your business on Facebook, visit https//fb.me/learn-blueprint

 

Facebook Thu, Dec 12, 2019 at 11:45 AM Reply-To: Facebook To: M Blake Reichenbach

Hi Blake,

Thank you for contacting Concierge, Facebook Support. My name is [REDACTED].

We greatly appreciate your time and patience while we look into your appeal on the Unpublished Page - [Page ID/URL] We truly understand the importance of regaining the access to your Page in order to continue your business with Facebook. Therefore, we raised an appeal and the respective team had thoroughly reviewed the asset.

I would like to let you know that our Internal Team have reviewed your Page and determined that the restriction was incorrectly placed on your Page you should be able to interact with your page again the normal way.

All Facebook features have some built-in limitations to ensure that fake users/bots do not take advantage of using the feature. Sometimes, when a legitimate person is using the feature too fast or too often, it will seem suspicious to the system, which then places either limits or a temporary block on the feature.

We will proceed to close this ticket now. Thanks for your tremendous understanding and patience while we are in the midst of checking on your concern. You may receive a quick automated survey via email and it will be evaluated based on the service provided by the related agent only. For any other issues, please feel free to initiate a chat support session at the following link: facebook.com/business/help

Thank you for your time and we wish you and your business well!

[REDACTED] Concierge | Facebook Support

 

M Blake Reichenbach Thu, Dec 12, 2019 at 1:13 PM 12/19/2019 To: Facebook

Hey [REDACTED],

Thanks for the update!

This issue occurred at a really unfortunate time for my brand and basically brought my current marketing campaigns to a halt. In order to recover lost time, I fear that I'm going to have to double down on paid advertising before the end of the year. Since I was counting on being able to directly interact with my followers from my page, I hadn't budgeted for additional paid ads. Would there be any way I could receive some sort of ad credit since I've been without access to my page for 20 days due to an API error that wasn't my fault?

Best,

Blake

 

M Blake Reichenbach Thu, Dec 12, 2019 at 1:35 PM To: Facebook

I also just checked and I do not have publishing privileges STILL. Please review this ASAP as it is drastically impacting my traffic. This is incredibly frustrating.

 

Facebook Thu, Dec 12, 2019 at 1:58 PM Reply-To: Facebook To: M Blake Reichenbach

Hi Blake,

This is [REDACTED] and I'm following up about your page access. Rest assured, I have reached out to our team to look into resolving your page access for you!

We do apologize for the inconvenience caused and thank you for your continuous support. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach back out to me by replying to this email.

Thank you for advertising with Facebook.

Have a great day ahead!

[REDACTED] Concierge |Facebook Support

 

 

M Blake Reichenbach Fri, Dec 13, 2019 at 3:24 PM To: Facebook

Interestingly, I also cannot even open my user settings for my page at this point. It just loads and loads indefinitely. May I get on a call or screenshare with an engineer or member of the "internal team" working my case to walk through this issue?

I'm feeling incredibly disheartened to hear that things look to be working on Facebook's end but not on mine. I can't help but think that if Facebook deemed me to be a higher priority advertiser, this would have been fixed by now. It honestly feels like things are being half-assed at this point. This is what... the third or fourth time I've been told that my issue is resolved but it's not.

Please tell me if there is anything I can do on my end to expedite the progress here. Can I send a HAR file? Can I get on a screen share? I work in software. At my company I'm the "internal team" that reviews these types of issues. Never in my tenure has a screenshot been adequate for troubleshooting bugs that I cannot personally reproduce.

Please just tell me if there is anything that would actually help these internal teams diagnose and fix the issue. I'm getting quite desperate here to get back on track.

 

Facebook Fri, Dec 13, 2019 at 3:31 PM Reply-To: Facebook To: M Blake Reichenbach

Hi Blake,

Thanks for letting us know.

I've reached out to our internal team and was advised that the best step forward would be to accomplish this form from your end to move towards recovering your page.: [REDACTED].

Please review your Support Inbox from time to time to check for our Internal Team's response.

I know that this was not the resolution you were expecting but rest assured, that this is the next step towards your resolution.

We will proceed to close this ticket now. I hope the above clarifies and I want to thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. You may receive a quick automated survey via email and it will be evaluated based on the service provided by the related agent only.

To support you better, Facebook’s online support hours are from 7AM to 10PM CST, Mondays to Saturdays.

Thank you for your time and we wish you and your business well!

[REDACTED] Concierge |Facebook Support

M Blake Reichenbach Fri, Dec 13, 2019 at 3:43 PM 12/19/2019 To: Facebook

[REDACTED], May I please have confirmation in writing that this will actually be reviewed?

Per the disclaimer on the page "While we aren’t able to review individual reports, the feedback you provide will help us improve the ways we keep Facebook safe."

This has been going on for 20+ days. At this point, it constitutes a loss of income for me. If I'm going to submit this form (even though I was not sent this form 20 days ago when this all started), I expect that this is going to be addressed. Otherwise, I will have to look into pursuing legal action due to the blocker this has caused for me as an entrepreneur.

Facebook has been one of my primary means of communication for my target audience and I haven't been able to access it for almost a month.

 

Facebook Fri, Dec 13, 2019 at 5:53 PM Reply-To: Facebook To: M Blake Reichenbach

Hi Blake,

This is [REDACTED]. I understand your concern regarding your page. Rest assured, our Internal team is responsible in reviewing all submissions sent to them To set expectations, there would be a turn around time of 48 hours or more depending on the request so please check your Support Inbox from time to time.

Don't hesitate to reach back and let us know. For anything else, please do not hesitate to come to us through chat. You may access this link to come to chat with us at facebook.com/business/help

Thank you for your patience and understanding throughout this process.

[REDACTED] Concierge |Facebook Support

 

M Blake Reichenbach Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 2:11 PM To: Facebook

Hey [REDACTED],

It's been 5 days since I submitted the form on the page provided and I've yet to hear back either via email or my Support Inbox. At this point, I feel bad for continuing to have to email you about this issue when it's obviously not your fault, but it has been nearly a full month since I have been able to publish anything to my page. May I please have the contact information of a member of this internal team or a concierge manager?

I don't think it's fair to you to put the impetus on your shoulders. While I'm not familiar with Facebook's concierge SLAs, I imagine it's also not helping your metrics that I have to keep checking in for an update so I would prefer to work with a manager from this point on. I respect that that's probably not the typical path and that most orgs have a "you're the owner of the ticket from beginning to end" policy, but the length of time it is taking to get this issue resolved when I've already been told that my access was supposed to have been restored... it is just getting to ridiculous.

Best, Blake

 

Facebook To: M Blake Reichenbach 12/19/2019

Hi Blake,

Thanks for reaching out to us. My name is [REDACTED] and I am responding on behalf of [REDACTED]. I hope your doing well.

I understand this is very important for you and has already been affecting you and especially your Business. Our Internal Team has found out that the issue may be caused by a couple of reasons, "like massive posting on a Page'. Facebook tries it's best to help client have a secured Account and Page. The good thing is this issue is only temporary. And what should be done is to do nothing on the page yet while it still shows the error. Everything will eventually go back to normal after a few days. It may take 30 days or less than that depending on the issue , but on your end, you don't have to do anything but to wait.

Hope that you find this information useful. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patience as we worked on your concern.

We could make a great team! For reference, here is your Case ID:[REDACTED]. Once the ticket has been closed, you will receive a quick automated survey via email and we will be evaluated based on the service we provided. It will be great if you could help us improve by taking a few seconds to send some feedback about your experience with us.

We pride ourselves in providing the best possible service for our Advertisers, as we always appreciate your continuous support and understanding. It will definitely make our day better if you could take part in this survey, since we strongly believe that your feedback will help us make the difference and strive for the best support on upcoming days.

To support you better, Concierge, Facebook Support hours are from 07:00 AM to 10:00 PM CST, Mondays to Saturdays. Feel free to contact us again if you require further assistance, we'd be happy to help. You can reach our support from 7am to 10pm CST. Once again, thank you for contacting Facebook.

Have a great day! Your satisfaction is our happiness!

Thanks for your contacting Facebook. Have a nice day!

All the Best,

[REDACTED] Concierge | Facebook Support

 

M Blake Reichenbach Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 3:26 PM To: Facebook

Hey [REDACTED],

I'm sorry, but I need a better timeline for a resolution. This issue was caused by Facebook. If someone would review my page and posts, you can see that I did not make "massive posting." When there are sequential "posts" occurring within a matter of milliseconds that contain partial sentences and raw JSON, that's not a human user making a post– that's most likely an API-related issue.

I understand that the issue is only temporary, but when it's a problem that was caused by Facebook and which I have been told should no longer be an issue (you can review the full case details to see where I have been informed of this), I expect more than "It may take 30 days or less than that depending on the issue, but on your end, you don't have to do anything but to wait". I have already waited for 26 days. That's not an acceptable solution. That's not even a solution.

I need to know when my page access will be restored and why Facebook has been unable to do anything up to this point.

 

Facebook Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 5:17 PM Reply-To: M Blake Reichenbach

Hi Blake,

Thanks for reaching out to us. My name is [REDACTED] and I am responding on behalf of [REDACTED].

I definitely understand how important it is for you to have the issue resolved regarding you unable to post as what is mentioned in the error. As much as I want to help, our Internal Team has come to the final decision even after I have made another appeal to consider the request. I appreciate you letting me know about your negative experience. We strive to ensure every customer is satisfied with our business, and I apologize for any way in which we may have inconvenienced you. We truly appreciate your understanding, and please don't hesitate to go back on us through chat should you need further assistance.

 

For your reference, you may visit this link for our advertising solutions: Advertiser Help Center. (https://www.facebook.com/business/help).

Thank you for advertising with Facebook. Have a great day ahead!

All the Best,

[REDACTED] Concierge | Facebook Support

 

M Blake Reichenbach Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 5:23 PM To: Facebook

Hey [REDACTED],

So what compensation am I getting for this? This is a Facebook problem that has directly impacted my ability to generate income. Am I going to get any kind of ad credit, or do I need to get my lawyer involved to negotiate that?

Additionally, I need clarification. Is that "30 days or less" 30 days since I've had my access revoked (meaning that I will have my access restored within the next four days) or is that 30 days starting now? If it's the latter, I must speak to a manager.

Best,

Blake

 

Facebook Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 6:10 PM Reply-To: M Blake Reichenbach

Hi Blake,

Thanks for reaching out to us. My name is [REDACTED] and I am responding on behalf of [REDACTED]. I understand that you need to speak to a manager and I would gladly notify my Manager regarding your concern and your request for him to drop you an email right away where you can directly reply back. In addition, regarding your question, temporary blocks can last from a few hours, a few days, a few months, or even be permanent. Feature blocks exist to ensure that fake users/bots do not take advantage of using the feature and to keep the platform enjoyable for all users. It must run through its advised time, and we cannot lift the block early. We highly advised Advertisers to slow down the behavior and to even stop using the features for a few days.

We regret for any inconvenience that it might cause as for now. To support you better, Concierge, Facebook Support hours are from 7AM to 10PM CST, Mondays to Saturdays.

Thank you for your time and we wish you and your business well!

All the Best,

[REDACTED] Concierge | Facebook Support