I don’t know, Facebook, you tell me… Is this Joe, Drew, Jared, Dusty, Bill, or Jeremy? Looks like a flying saucer to me!
Hm.. I am not sure WHO that is, Facebook.
I work as Manager of Internet + Social Media for a corporate holding company with around ten business units. I am working with a couple of the businesses to move their Facebook presences from a regular ID/Profile page, where people must click “Add a Friend” in order to make a connection to the business, to the much more business-friendly Fan Page. For a business, the Fan Page is the way to go; a Facebook user visits your Page, or your website (with a Like Box enabled, of course) and clicks the ubiquitous “Like” button- and presto, they’re a Fan!
For one of our businesses, I talked to one of the employees, and obtained her login information. I logged in as her, made a post suggesting that the Friends of the page start visiting the newly created Fan page, and click “Like.” I encouraged her to make similar posts, in the hopes we would have the 800+ Friends of the page converted over to Fans some time soon.
The Dreaded “Suspicious Login” Message
That’s when the trouble started. While this business is but a mile or so away from where I sit, in corporate, it has its own Internet access, and therefore its own IP addresses for all computers. The next time SHE logged in, she received the “There was a suspicious login to your account…” message and was told she would need to verify the account. This used to be handled (according to Facebook – I don’t recall ever having to do this) by an email message to the account holder, asking them to verify the account and receipt of the email.
Now the Verification Process – or at least the only one available at present, it suggests there are others but none are listed – involves identifying photos of at least five photos, at random, from the accounts list of Friends. And the photos provided are not just the respective Profile photos of those Friends. One option provided two photos, with a person tagged in each, and a list of names!
This Is Impossible!
Now this is a Facebook Profile page setup for a business – there is simply no way that anyone employed there will be able to recognize enough of these photos (out of the five, you are allowed only two “skips”) in order to “verify” the account. Simply no way.
I would daresay that most actual Facebook users would have trouble identifying five photos of their friends, unless their Friends list is very small. I “only” have 444 friends as of this posting, and I have no idea of the average number of friends a Facebook user has. But I know with certainty there is no way I could ever hope to get through this photo verification process. A good number of the friends I have are old middle or high school friends, that I made contact with, maybe shared a bit of information, photos… and now I wouldn’t know them from any of the other millions of Facebook users, on sight. And that’s me, with a few hundred friends.
How will someone with a Friends list in the thousands handle this problem? Simply put, they won’t, as I’m proposing that it will be nigh impossible for the vast majority of Facebook users to get around this verification roadblock.
A Way Around the Roadblock?
I absolutely HATE being stumped by something like this – nearly as much as I usually hate using all caps in any situation! So I set to searching… Surely, someone out there has run into this, and has found a way around the roadblock, or there is someone, some discussion board out there, who has a solution. Well, it turns out, simply put – No. I cannot find anyone out there with a solution. Plenty of people complaining, but no way around the roadblock – yet.
Solution Attempt #1
A friend of mine, listening to me rant about this issue, had the idea to pull up the Facebook Profile page in question, logged in under another ID, and view All its Friends, and to use that as a guide while I tried going through the Verification process in another browser window. Even thought the photos in the verification process are NOT the actual Profile photos of the people in question, maybe I could sort through and recognize enough to get through this procedure.
Alas, no. Besides the sheer number of potential users in question – 800+ – the view All Friends you see on any of your Friend’s pages, that pop-up window only lists around 20-25 Friends at a time. You have to click “Next” to load the next group. That would make for a pretty tedious process of looking through a whole slew of Profile pictures, trying to match that photo with a tagged photo of some random person in the verification process.
That brings up a good point, and another issue with this Verification process. By asking the user to identify Tagged Photos of at least 5 friends, is Facebook assuming that people’s Friends all look the same all of the time – that ANYONE actually looks the same in photos over the years? Now, I’m just a guy, but I look different in a number of my photos, depending on the length of my hair, the situation, or whether or not I have a beard, etc.
So, I begin the process… And the very first photo I see? The one you see above, obviously of a flying saucer (or fake UFO, take your pick). No, Facebook, I have no way of knowing if that flying object is any of the friends you have listed there!
Solution Attempt #1 – failed.
Solution Attempt #2
At this point I had the bright idea to just reset the password on the account. Surely, in sending the password reset request to the email address on file for the Profile, that would in some way verify that the person receiving the email, and setting a new password, and thus their login, is genuine, right?
I went through the password reset process, in which you are presented with a field to enter your email or Facebook ID, then it informs you that you will be receiving a confirmation code, and to please enter that code to confirm the whole password reset process. Once confirmed, you are asked to enter a new password for the account. I called the business unit, let them know to expect an email, and to please send me the code. Email received, code entered. I then specified a new password for the account.
I attempted to login, and presto – here’s the familiar Suspicious Login message, the dreaded roadblock, telling me that I must ID photos of my Friends to verify my account. There is a link to try another verification method… but this takes you right back to a page saying there is no other verification method available at present, and I should wait an hour, before attempting to identify my Friend’s photos again.
Solution Attempt #1 – failed.
Back to the Drawing Board
I am writing this post, and am going to cross-post it to as many Facebook-related and social media type sites as I can, in the interest that enough noise will be made, someone at Facebook will take note, and possibly, some day, I can actually get into that Facebook account.
At this point, I am just glad that I am not having this issue with my own personal Facebook Profile page, as if I don’t have access to that, there are a dozen or so Fan pages that will have NO activity for a while.
Any useful suggestions, hints, or the willingness to spread the word by sharing this post, would be greatly appreciated.
A post to the linked InsideFacebook article suggests the following URL: http://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=17846&ref_query=roa
This form at least offers a way to submit a report to Facebook about the problem. I just submitted a request for help, and will post here with results (good or bad).