Facebook bans new members of The Malcolm Hardee Appreciation Society

After comedian Malcolm Hardee died, I set up a website (scandalously seldom updated) and I also started the now highly coveted annual Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe, but I had nothing to do with setting up The Malcolm Hardee Appreciation Society page on Facebook.

This was set up and run by Sally Western, who worked for a time at Malcolm’s now closed Up The Creek 2 comedy club in Croydon.

Sally set up the Malcolm Hardee Appreciation Society page and, in Facebook terms, was sole ‘Administrator’ of the group. She monitored what was posted, erased any self-promoting irrelevancies and could, through her own personal Facebook account, accept new members into the closed group.

But, about three months ago, Facebook suspended and deleted Sally’s own personal account, which means that she now cannot access her own Malcolm Hardee account (because, as far as the Facebook computer is concerned, she does not exist). She cannot add anything to the page and, if someone wants to join the group, she cannot approve them – so no-one can join the group.

“My account got deleted,” she told me this week over a Scotch egg in a pub in Soho, “but Facebook would not tell me why. I was battling with them in e-mails and they said We want you to send us your ID – your driving licence or passport – to the USA. I said Tell me what I have done? and they refused, so now it’s in limbo… Because of identity theft and all the NSA stuff, I don’t want to send my passport or driving licence to America.”

“So what,” I asked, “do you think you could have done to get deleted by Facebook?”

“I have no idea,” replied Sally. “Americans can read things slightly wrong and get upset, but I have no idea what I’ve done and they won’t tell me.”

Sally is now in the position that she cannot even add a comment on her own Malcolm Hardee page (it is a ‘closed’ group for members only) because the Facebook account through which she was a member no longer exists. Therefore, as far as Facebook is concerned, she does not exist. This also means that, at the point her personal account was deleted, all the messages she ever posted on the Malcolm Hardee Appreciation Society page were also deleted.

Facebook says you cannot this

Facebook says you cannot join…

“So,” I asked Sally, “loads of the posts – both text and photos – have disappeared from the Malcolm page because they were made by someone – you – that Facebook has decided is a non-person?”

“Yes,” said Sally.

“And, because only you as the sole Administrator can allow someone else to be the Administrator and you do not exist, no-one else can become Administrator so no-one else can ever be approved to join the Malcolm Hardee Appreciation Society page on Facebook?”

“Yes,” said Sally.

“And you can’t re-join the group because only you can approve yourself to re-join and you don’t exist?”

“Yes,” said Sally.

Welcome to Catch-22 in 1984 in 2014.

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