Readers who have followed Ordinary Time and/or seen it linked to my Facebook account are no doubt aware of my ongoing struggle with two-factor authentication. To recap briefly: FB will lock me out of my account unless I activate something called “Facebook Protect,” but to do that I have to supply an updated password. And to do that, I have to follow a Kafkaesque series of prompts that require me to enter information I don’t have and eventually land me right back where I started.
So with time running out (the latest deadline is Dec. 20), I decided to close out the account. And today when I tried to do that, I got this message. Franz Kafka couldn’t have said it any better:
Two takeaways from this latest wrinkle:
- I’m done. I’ve tried, but FB is going to do whatever it damn well pleases with my account anyway. I won’t know if it’s hacked, and I won’t be able to help when it is.
- So if you get an “add friend” request, an attachment in FB messenger or anything else that purports to be from me, don’t open it. I didn’t send it; I probably don’t even know about it; and I can’t get into FB to do anything about it.
Here’s what’s especially galling about this whole saga — any high school freshman with a working knowledge of computers could probably get me out of password hell in 10 minutes flat, but I can’t get any help from FB’s customer support. In fact, I’m inclined to agree with Kirsten Grind, tech company reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and Brian Stelter, former media critic for CNN, that FB doesn’t have anything remotely like a functioning customer service operation.
“Getting customer service help from FB feels almost impossible,” said Stelter in a CNN newsletter item I picked up for the blog, “as I know personally, since users sometimes email me for help, just like Grind.”
As far as I’m concerned, this is one last upthrust middle-digit salute from Mark Zuckerberg and his merry band of — what’s the right word for them? Forbes magazine, which pays attention to media moguls like Zuckerberg, estimates his net worth has gone from $134.5 billion in 2021 to 33.5 billion in November. I’m inclined to think he might want to reconsider his business model. I doubt he will, though. When a large number of FB users were locked out in March, I thought two comments on an article in The Verge, the online tech magazine, pretty well summed up what’s happening. One came from a FB user:
Dear Facebook App: Your new Facebook Protect, which I didn’t ask for, keeps texting me an identical two-factor verification code, which continues to not work. I’m now effectively locked out of my account. This is heightened security? Guess I’ll spend more time on Twitter.
That was in March. We know now that Twitter may not be much of an alternative, either, now that another self-styled media mogul has bought it. The other comment refers to something timeless and, I fear, unchanging. Media companies don’t make their money off of people like you and me. As Verge subscriber JFitzgerald (a screen name) pointed out:
The one thing Facebook is ultra competent at is the advertising platform. That’s where they put the money and effort. Because its customers are advertisers. Users are a cost of goods sold, and those costs need to be minimized.
In other words users, people like you and me, aren’t the primary customers. So why bother with customer service? My own saga with FB began in March when I was locked out the first time. I railed about it in May when I saw Brian Stelter’s CNN piece, and then — inexplicably — in late summer I was able to get on FB again. I can only conclude that “Facebook Protect” isn’t exactly a well-oiled machine. And now, the whole Kafkaesque saga has started up again. If you’re interested, I blogged about it here:
- On May 27, in a post I headlined “Hey Facebook, your awesome new super-duper whiz-bang ‘security measures’ locked me out, and I can’t get you to help“; and
- On Dec. 16, in a post headlined “‘Same song, second verse …’: Why I’ve finally had it up to the keister with billionaires, whiz kids and social media.”
I hope this is my third and final post on the subject.
There are more interesting things to write about, and I am in the process of reimagining Ordinary Time to include journaling on more of the issues I shared content about on FB, an eclectic mixture of spirituality, politics, hymnody, folk music and bright, shiny objects that attract my attention. If you’re still with me this far down in the present post, you might be interested in subscribing. Just enter your email address in the field below and click on the red-and-blue “SUBSCRIBE” button.
[Uplinked Dec. 18, 2022]