The many weird ways to get banned from Facebook
Finally. 7-year-olds and octogenarians have something in common other than having to be reminded to pee before leaving the house:
They're both shut out of Facebook by the site's age restrictions.
Usually the Facebook age limit discussion centers on anxious tweens lying that they're older than 13 to join the social network. But this week, we were introduced to the other, elderly side of that issue: that birth year options for some users only go back 99 years. For most users, you can go back to 1905.
This is why 104-year-old Marguerite Joseph says she was forced to lie on her Facebook profile about her age. It's not that she wasn't old enough for the site. Apparently, she was too old. So her listed year of birth is 1913, instead of the true 1908.
All this struck me especially hard. See, my grandma is amazing. In her 80s, she attended computer classes at a local college. In her 90s, she got a Facebook account. She's now 98, still online and apparently pressing right up against Facebook's unintentional age limit.
Say she forgets her password one day and needs a new account (for those who have never met a 98-year-old, let me say this is not a far-fetched scenario) she'll either have to not rejoin the site or -- and this is where things get serious -- lie on the Internet! Who would ever do such a thing?!
So this had us wondering: What other unintentional traps exist in the fine print of Facebook's terms? Quite a few, it turns out. And many, like Marguerite's effective age limit, have turned regular ol' Internet citizens into very public Righteous Defenders of Common Sense.
Two of the most well-known involve an improper elbow and two guys kissing. Both were cited as violating Facebook's decency policy. This photo of a sudsy woman in a bathtub makes it appear her elbows are something else entirely and was pulled from the site. Ditto this image of men kissing. Facebook later apologized for removing both pictures and reinstated them.
There are also strict rules about what your name can and cannot be. Facebook requires using your actual name and red flags those that sound suspicious, even if they're legit. Like "Beta." An attempted Facebook user named Beta Yee was not allowed to use her birth name and ended up going with Beatrice, which was allowed and which seems to defeat the point entirely.
Other name rules include no professional titles (thoughts, Dr. Drew?) and no "unusual capitalization". For all of us MySpace veterans out there, this last one is greatly aPPreCiaTeD.
Also appreciated is Facebook's rule that you will be barred from sending friend requests if you send an obnoxious amount of friend requests. Their official warning goes like this, "From now on, please don't send friend requests to people you don't know personally." IRL rules apply here too: Nobody likes a creepy pest. Don't be a creepy pest.
Less black and white though are all these stories we hear about moms having their accounts suspended over breastfeeding photos. It's gotten to the point now where Facebook even has an official policy on the subject. The bottom line: breastfeeding photos with no fully exposed breast, good. Breastfeeding photos with fully exposed breast, banned.
The one exception? Pictures of your 5-year-old pretending to nurse on your 2-year-old will also (rightfully) get you kicked out of the club, exposed chest or not. It will also get the attention police. So do not do this.
Also, try not to be named Mark Zuckerberg. While not explicitly stated anywhere in its terms, Facebook doesn't mess around when it comes to potential impostor accounts of its founder. Regardless of whether it actually is an impostor account.
A Mark Zuckerberg in Indiana had his profile removed after Facebook assumed he was just another random dude assuming the FaceBoss' identity. Facebook later apologized for the trouble (which included submitting birth certificate and driver's license copies to prove his identity) but Zuckerberg has recovered pretty well. He now even has an awesome Facebook-baiting website set up with the very unsubtle URL, www.iammarkzuckerberg.com.
Doesn't look like the other Zuckerberg will be having any more issues with Facebook. Until he turns 100.