Somethings—particularly the internet—can seem American-centric. For example, I can’t stream Netflix or hulu while overseas (yes, I realize there are ways to get around this). Some of my favorite stores won’t send clothes or certain items overseas. I get it. It is capitalism at its height. However, this week, I ran into the intolerable. Facebook decided that I was most likely a computer and not a real person. While sometimes I feel more like a machine at work then a human, I assure you, I am in fact a living, breathing, person.
The problem is—I had to convince facebook of this.
Facebook gave me two options: 1) have a cell phone on a company that they supported in a country that they supported. By support, I mean technical support, not financial or political. Shockingly, Kazakhstan was not a supported country. The second option was to input a phone number in any country and receive an automatic call that gives you a code (you also could get the code via texting in option 1). The final scenario included me stopping to use Facebook all together or to create a new account.
I know that not everyone is a fan of FB or its counterparts; however, personally, I find it a good way to keep in touch, to share pictures and videos, and to know where people are. Yes, it is also good for stalking those girls from high school and elementary school who made my childhood a less happy place and then laughing at where they have ended up in lift. But, primarily, FB is a place for me to stay connected with those I want to be connected with.
Since Kazakhstan, and thus I, is not supported by option 1, I opted for option 2. I diligently put in my Kazakh cell phone number. I waited. I waited and I waited and I got impatient. I then google to make sure this wasn’t a hoax and waited some more. Failure.
I realize that Kazakhstan is a far off country that most people haven’t heard of beyond the factually incorrect on all accounts Borat. So, I decided to use my Skype number. I have confessed in the past that I love Skype and I now have a local Milwaukee number that will call my computer. I input that. S was at home and had grudgingly agreed to write down the code (in general he doesn’t like talking to strangers or taking messages not in his own language). He waited. I waited. I became impatient and worried. More failure. I went home.
At home, I googled the problems some more. I must admit that when you google: Facebook Confirm my Identity, you get a lot of posts. None particularly useful. Some downright sad. You also learn that this is really hard for people in the far corners of the world. Becoming desperate, I emailed my amazing network of contacts through Chile Spouse— yes, a bunch of (mostly) English speaking women who have married Chileans and who (mostly) live in Chile. As the helpful group they are—they responded in droves.
One person had even had this happen to her before. She offered to let me use her cell number since she had successfully used it in the past. And with that, a stranger, 10563 miles (16998 km.) away sent a text to facebook, received a code, and emailed it to me. I input the information and was denied as anther account was associated with that number. Failure!
The next obvious choice was someone in S’s family as they don’t have FB and do have cell phones. Unfortunately, their cell phone carrier was not a supported carrier. Failure.
I called my Father. Or rather, we skyped. When in doubt, you can always depend on parents to help. So, with some trial and error, my father learned how to text. He texted facebook, they texted a code and I was back in. Sigh of relief and big thanks to Dad.
Moral of the story: Facebook needs to fix this so as to not discriminate against those of us in more unusual places.
Moral of the story: Parents are great…. Or, at least mine are.
Follow-up: Several hours later, my father called back. While the people who thought this was a scam to steal my money/identity/etc were wrong—they were not completely wrong. Without my approval Facebook had linked the phone number to my account and was, without my authorization, sending all messages via text. Yes, I found a way to turn this service off; however, not before my non-texting father had received multiple messages. Also, surely, he will get little charges for each. So, this was Facebook’s way of trying to scam me into providing a cell number so that they could further hook me in. Part of me believes that the “automatic call” will never work because their goal is cell numbers.