This morning (Oct 16, 2010) I found that my facebook account was disabled. So I followed the link to see why that happened. It turns out that facebook knows the birthday that I told them was fake and asks me to provide them a real birthday (see the image below).
Indeed I provided them a fake birthday when I signed up my facebook account because I do not think they have a need to know this little piece of private information of mine. I was thinking that as long as I was not lying on my age to circumvent some age-based rules (e.g. those preventing kids from accessing pornographic material), I thought I am (morally) justified to hide my real birthday. But apparently facebook does not think so. They want to know your real birthday (not just age), and if you don't tell them, they will know it anyway?! Scary, scary!
Granted, my birthday is not top secret, and anyone who is determined enough can carry out an investigation and probably can find out the information relatively easily. Still, it is not public information, and I don't give it out easily. I think probably only my relatives and close friends, my employers, some government agencies, and some companies with whom I have some form of contractual relationship, such as my banks, know my real birthday. Also, I am not a person of such interest to facebook that they would start any special investigation on me or my birthday, so the explanation seems to point to this direction: that users' real birthday information, not voluntarily provided by users but acquired through another means, are readily available within facebook, and that through a simple match of the information in their different databases facebook knew who gave them fake information. If that is true, then it is really scary.
[Updated on Oct 17, 2010: Perhaps this little incident can be explained by a non-conspiracy theory. See this another thought of mine on this incident. ]
A fallout of this is that the several popular pages that I solely administer are now also disabled. So if you are a members of these facebook communities, I will have to apologize for the outage.
Also if some of you out there are administering some important facebook pages, I suggest you assign at least one more administrators to these pages. This is sometimes known as a "Business Continuity Plan". I actually thought about doing it, but my busy schedule kept pushing it to "tomorrow" ... until now this is too late.
Hopefully this outage is temporary. I am now going through the facebook procedures to re-enable my account. I don't know how long this is going to take. Please bear with us for the moment. If you have any questions, you can email me at leeyuiwah AT gmail DOT com
These are some of the pages that I administer:
- 魚翅婚宴。人情七折 Cut gift money for shark fin banquets (two groups and a page)
- 請曾特首在施政報告中暫絕魚翅 Please say no to shark fin soup in your CE policy address
- 但願春茗無魚翅 No shark fin soup in our company banquets, please
- 「撐港台運動」專頁 SaveRTHK Campaign Community Page
If you are on facebook or twitter, please help me spread the following message out (exactly 140 characters)
李銳華 Clement Lee's facebook a/c is temporarily disabled, so are all his pages (Shark Fin /SaveRTHK) See http://bit.ly/ClementFbAc for details