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Tech & The Web

This Could Be the Most Useless Facebook Email Ever


I received a Facebook email that made me do a double-take because of how little information it actually provided.

If Facebook’s leadership had to read ever Facebook email the platform sent out, I think they’d be a lot better.
I received a notification from the platform the platform this week. Yes, I verified that it did come from a Facebook email address.

“We had to remove something you posted because we’re concerned it might promote or encourage self-harm or suicidal behavior,” the email begins.

Well, that certainly raised my eyebrows. I immediately began thinking about what I’d posted recently. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve posted anything on my profile within the past day or two.

The next line informed me that Facebook takes “users’ safety very seriously and will remove any content that violates our Community Standards.” It then provides a link for me to read said standards.

The third line of three suggests that if I happen to be experiencing “thoughts of suicide or self-harm,” I should contact my local emergency services or a crisis-support line.

I should do so right away, it says. It then provides a link where I might find a location of a crisis-support line near me.

Well, that’s really nice of them to care so much.

There’s just one little problem with this Facebook email

I have no idea what the hell they’re talking about. I certainly haven’t posted anything — not anything at all — that would remotely suggest I’m considering any form of self-harm.

The email does not mention any specifics of the post or photo or video Facebook apparently found questionable. They gave me no screengrab of it. They provided no details about what the text might have said. The email doesn’t even mention when the content was posted.

On top of that, in my role as a digital manager, I oversee more than a dozen professional Facebook pages. It’s possible that the content may have been posted on one of those pages. In that case, it would notify me if it saw that I was the administrator of the page.

But it doesn’t tell me where the content was posted. I don’t know if they were talking about my profile or one of the many pages I’m connected with. I’m assuming it’s not my profile, since I don’t recall posting anything in the past couple of days. n top of that, I don’t notice any content missing from my profile.

I’m sure this email is 100% automated

That, however, is exactly the problem. Because it’s surely an automated message, the system should be able to take a screen grab of the “offending” content. And because it’s surely an automated message, the system should at least say which page or profile it was posted on.

The system should be able to recognize that I manage more than a dozen pages on top of my profile. I didn’t go back and count, but I’m probably an administrator on two dozen pages. I often receive an automated Facebook notification that some video I attempted to post failed because of some technical error or another.

They never specify which page, which video or the exact technical problem in question.

I know some of the people who post to the pages I manage often do add video. Since Facebook doesn’t help me with anything in the way of useful information on those, I take no action. (I mean, there’s no action for me to take.)

But if Facebook genuinely thinks I’m in some sort of danger, I’d think they’d do a little better in terms of reaching out and at least letting me know what led them to such a bold assumption.

When a company lets a computer try to portray passionate humans, it’s always going to fall short. If I had been in some sort of mental crisis, the cold, generic nature of this Facebook email might have made me feel even worse.

Maybe it’s time that Facebook try to be a little more human if they’re going to try to have a machine emulate the “human touch.”

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.