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Saturday, July 31, 2010

When Facebook's privacy settings can lock you out...

       Facebook has undoubtedly grown into one of the biggest social platforms, outperforming Google's Orkut, Buzz and the popular MySpace. Its developer API has made way for some of the most addictive games like Mafia Wars and FarmVille. But, the security and privacy settings they adopt can sometime lock you out of your own account.
       For instance, here is a true story of my friend who was an active Facebook user and had over 928 friends!! He is studying in Bangalore and so uses Facebook here. When he went to his native for vacations this time and tried to access his account there, he got locked out. The reason being - they doubt whether it was him accessing the account because its from an unfamiliar place for that account. Here is the exact wordings used by facebook to show the error - " Your account was recently accessed from a location we're not familiar with. For your protection, please review your recent activity to make sure no one is using your Facebook account without permission.

Reviewing your activity takes just a few moments. We'll start by asking you a couple of questions to confirm that this is your account. (If we recognize your computer, you'll be able to skip this step.) "

       Okay, they give you profile pictures of your friends and ask you to identify in order to authenticate the account. But, the funniest part is, they give pictures of your friend's farms (virtual farms created using FarmVille) and ask you questions like "Whose farm is this?". Can you beat that. My friend obviously didn't know whose farm it was, he never was the "farming" kind too. So facebook decides that he's an intruder and locks him out of his own account. Apparently the situation is called a Roadblock.

Check out the screenshots of Facebook's hilarious questionnaire :
These are screen shots asking him to identify the friend based on profile pictures...

        So unless he identifies these cartoon characters, he's pretty much out of facebook. There was an even worse situation I happened to read about recently. Facebook faces the problem of detecting people who're dead and eliminating their accounts. If a friend reports that you're dead, facebook just might delete your account. That's what happened to one person. Imagine an error message that goes, "Sorry, this account has been deleted..You're dead! " .. Well and the saddest part is, facebook doesn't have a proper "Contact Us" form or anything to report such an incidence. The "dead" guy had to post his problem on a couple of blogs before facebook took notice and apologized for the inconvenience caused.
       Anyway, they seem to have improved a bit when it comes to the feedback part. After a bit of research, I came across their "Error reporting form". So if any of you get locked out of your accounts, you may report an error here. Hope that facebook improves identifying dead people from alive ones in the future..


  1. the unlucky person is me.. apparently the error reporting form people dont respond to you properly.. since i failed to recognize my friends farm and teddys and dogs..they asked me to confirm by entering the verification code that they have sent to my mobile but, i have never received the code.. really dont know what to do.. an international website cannot be accessed from a different state, how funny is that... i'll give it a last try if nothing is happening screw facebook i'll join myspace..

  2. i am back with my problem i came to know why they blocked my account.. its not because i have accessed my account from different state but because my account was accessed from different country.. i used the website www.invisiblesurfing.com to check my facebook whose server location is from UK so facebook thought it was some phishing activity so blocked my account .. all this security is driving me crazy..my account is not yet restored..

  3. OK this friend of mine, chandrakanth recently told me of another incident. His friend accessed the account from his native and the same thing happened - he got locked out. And his friend hadn't used any proxy server to access facebook. Seems like they are trying their best to curb phishing attacks. But, it is www.facebook, meaning world wide web and accessible from anywhere around the world. Sad that you've to identify teddies if you try accessing from a different place. lol :D


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