Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Local Musician Fights Facebook Embargo — And Wins

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 12:51 PM

SnakeRock.JPG

Getting any action from a giant Internet company often seems like a hopeless job. But a determined Cleveland musician succeeded.

When Snake Rock, who’s been making music since the ’70s fronting a band of the same name, signed up for a Facebook account about three years ago, his unusual name — legally changed from Chris Cremona in 1977 — raised red flags. He was initially rejected, but was allowed to join the service after providing I.D. showing that “Snake Rock” was indeed his legal name.

Things chugged along without incident until recently.

“I gained 1,500 friends, I reconnected with people, I met my girlfriend, I stayed in touch with my students,” says Snake, who earns his living teaching guitar. “Then [on January 2] I tried to log on, and it said, ‘Your account has been disabled for using a fake name.’ There was no warning or anything. Without Facebook, I didn’t hear from a single potential student in a week. I usually get 2 or 3 inquiries in a week. Thank god the School of Rock threw me some work, but home teaching is how I make my money.”

He began frantically trying to reach someone — anyone — at the social network. Apparently, they can’t even be bothered to have a phone bank of unhelpful people in India with incomprehensible accents and fake names like “Tiffany,” like another big, uncaring company.

“I tried 50 ways to correspond with them,” says Snake. “I emailed 50 different accounts — legal@faceboo.com, abuse@facebook.com, disabled@facebook.com. I found a number to call on Google, but no one ever gets back to you. There’s no way of getting in touch with them. They don’t have adequate customer support.”

When he was airing his frustrations, a friend suggested calling Fox 8 News. The station did a brief segment on his battle with the faceless Facebook last Friday; he attached the video to his blizzard of emails.

That apparently did the trick. This weekend, he got an email saying, “Thanks for verifying your identity. We’re sorry for the delay in resolving your issue. After investigation, we found that we suspended your account by mistake.” His page has been reactivated after nearly a week and a half offline. — Anastasia Pantsios

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