Is Facebook about to shut down my account?

By | February 11th, 2016

Facebook wants documentation from Daniel Spannraft that he doesn’t have. Is his account about to be shut down?

Question: My wife and I have used a joint Facebook account for a number of years and like it. Yesterday, Facebook insisted that we change our account to a single name and send the scans of driver’s licenses, passports, and other IDs.

We do not know why they are not allowing a joint account, but would like to leave things the way they are. We also don’t want to send Facebook confidential information, including our IDs. Can you help us? — Daniel Spannraft, Winthrop Harbor, Ill.

Answer: Facebook’s policy on names is crystal clear: It doesn’t allow joint accounts.

When you signed up for Facebook, you agreed to its terms, so technically, the names on your account violated your agreement with the social network. Its demands for an ID was just a roundabout way of saying that unless you could prove there’s a person with you and your wife’s name, you would lose your account.

I checked with Facebook to verify that there hadn’t been a misunderstanding, and the policy is still in place. “We do not allow joint accounts on Facebook,” company spokesman William Nevius told me.

This is a particularly timely discussion, given the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday. Joint accounts are romantic. They signify an eternal bond between two people. They are also a terrible idea.

Why? Because couples break up. Divorces happen. People die. I’m sorry to sound so unromantic, but life happens. Do you really want to give up your entire social media or email account when that happens?

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A joint account can be confusing to end users, too. They might wonder who they’re communicating with when they post something on your Facebook page or when they send you an email. Are they hearing back from Daniel or from his spouse?

This is one of my pet peeves. I receive emails almost every day from joint accounts, and it’s particularly frustrating when they don’t sign it, or when they leave a generic signature with both names. So if I hear from Bob and Mary Smith, and they sign the email “Bob and Mary Smith,” then who am I writing back to — Bob Smith or Mary Smith?

Bottom line: There are better ways of memorializing your love for each other than a joint social media account.

Many of Facebook’s policies are silly and arbitrarily enforced. This isn’t one of them. After learning that your account violated Facebook’s rules, you changed the name on your account. Problem solved.

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