The Web has opened up lines of communication that were previously closed for the vast majority of the world. Anyone with an Internet connection can now head online and talk to someone on the other side of the world using any one of a range of different services. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are the obvious options.
There is unfortunately a tendency to abuse these new lines of communication, by expressing opinions that would be best kept unsaid, attacking people that may or may not deserve it, spreading salacious gossip, or posting inappropriate content. What is often and easily forgotten is that it’s entirely possible to get banned from social networks, with some rules applying across the board, and others that individual sites have put in place.
What follows is a short and simple guide on how to get banned from social networks. Not that you should try (or even want to), of course, in which case you can treat this as a short and simple guide on what to avoid doing if you want to safeguard your position on your social networking site of choice.
Facebook is the most popular social network on the Web, at least popular in terms of the number of users, but not necessarily in terms of likability. From the feedback we’ve received about Zuckerberg’s creation it seems many people belong to the site begrudgingly. Those who no longer want to be a part of Facebook can get themselves banned quite easily.
Create a Profile Or Page Without Permission
If you’re not Kanye West then don’t create a profile pretending to be him. If you do then you may get chucked off the site before you can don those stupid glasses of his as some kind of disguise.
Post Copyrighted Content To Excess
You may have downloaded various pieces of content illicitly, but put them on Facebook and the resulting action is likely to be severe. Especially if you do it continuously.
Post Pornography, Nudity Or Graphic Content
You can look at pornography all you want, assuming you’re happy with the possible consequences of doing so, but if you then post it to Facebook you’ll find yourself banned.
Threaten, Bully Or Harass Other Users
There are bullies everywhere, even online. If you’re one of them, and you decide to target someone for whatever reason, then Facebook may just turn the tables and bully you off the site.
Run a Pyramid Scheme
Some forms of multi-level marketing are a nasty business, with only those at the top gaining any real benefits. Until they’re thrown in jail. This isn’t merely frowned upon by Facebook, but unlawful in real-life as well.
Twitter has even more to contend with than Facebook in terms of managing its users and their interactions with each other. Anyone can follow anyone else without an invitation, which means Twitter has stringent rules in place to prevent chaos ensuing. This means, once again, that it’s a breeze to get yourself banned from the service.
Pretend To Be Someone You’re Not
It’s Kanye again. Oh no, it isn’t.
Create Multiple, Overlapping Accounts
You are allowed to create multiple accounts on Twitter, but not if you’re doing so for nefarious purposes. Especially if they’re all being used for the same kinds of activity.
Buy & Sell Usernames
Twitter took some time to grow into the behemoth it is today, which meant all the best usernames were snapped up by geeky early-adopters. If you’re one of them you cannot now decide to make a profit by selling that username on, no matter how tempting it may be to do so.
Buy & Sell Users
It may also be tempting to buy followers using one of those companies offering ways of doing so. Don’t. They’re breaking the rules, and you would be too.
Spam Your Followers
We’re all so used to spam emails that most of us don’t even give them a second glance these days. Especially as spam filters are so good at stopping them getting through in the first place. Sadly spammers have turned elsewhere, including Twitter.
Google+ is reportedly growing at a rate of knots, mainly thanks to Google’s integration of its social network into many of its other services. Most don’t then seem to follow through by playing an active role on the site, but those who do have a strict set of rules to abide by if they want to avoid being banned.
Create a Page That Isn’t Yours To Create
Kanye! With the glasses! Nope, it’s some random person pretending to be him.
Run a Contest Directly On Your Page
By all means link to a contest you’re running on an external site, but you’re not allowed to run the contest exclusively on Google+.
Try & Use SEO Techniques
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a legitimate practice when it’s done well and for the right reasons. And shameful when it’s done badly and/or for the wrong reasons. It’s heartily frowned upon on Google+.
Go Out Of Your Way To Promote Hatred Towards Minority Groups
Bullying an individual is one thing, bullying, or inciting the bullying of, a group just because they’re different in some way is quite another. Both are bad, either could get you banned.
Aggressively Add Random People To Your Circles
Google+ is all about the Circles which you use to organize your contacts. Adding numerous strangers to Circles in a short space of time will see your account potentially flagged for abuse.
LinkedIn isn’t your typical social networking site, surviving while so many others have passed away by catering to professionals building online résumés and a network of like-minded individuals. If anything this means the scope for abusing the system is even larger, and there are a variety of different ways to get yourself banned.
Connect With Strangers Without Good Reason
LinkedIn is all about networking in a legitimate way with others in the same field of business as yourself. It isn’t about gaining as many contacts as you can, and you’ll be punished for trying to do that.
Post Copyrighted Content To Excess
If you don’t own it then don’t share it. Without explicit permission from the real owner.
Insert Links In Inappropriate Places
This is a form of spamming, referring to placing a link to an external site within a field not designed to hold such information.
Introduce a Worm, Virus, Or Phishing Technique To The Site
If you’re the source of malware on LinkedIn then you can expect to be expelled from the site with short shrift.
Gain Connections Inorganically
You’re meant to build connections in an organic manner, and if you choose to bypass that time-consuming process by employing nefarious techniques you’ll pay the price by being kicked off the site.
Pinterest grew from nothing to become one of the largest social networks seemingly overnight. We like it so much we created a guide to Pinterest. By focusing on content rather than the people it was able to differentiate itself from the competition, and yet it still suffers from the same issues as its rivals. Most of the ways to get yourself banned are centered around the type of content you choose to post to the site.
Create An Account That Isn’t Yours To Create
Kanye? Pinning images to boards? Well, I never.
Get Caught Posting Copyrighted Content
It’s not yours and it’s clearly protected under copyright laws. But you do have to get caught first.
Automate & Scrape
It’s not exactly hard work to pin content onto Pinterest. Even so, some people like to bypass the manual process and automate it instead. Even though it’s against the rules. As is scraping content or personal information.
Spam Your Fellow Pinners
Spam can crop up anywhere. Even on Pinterest. It’s not big, it’s not clever, and it may get you banned for life.
Encourage Others To Engage In Illicit Activity
We’re obviously not encouraging you to do any of the above (on Pinterest or any of the other sites), just merely pointing out what kind of things will get you banned or at least strongly censured.
What should be immediately obvious from reading the above is how many of the same rules apply across the board. If you want to keep your place on social networks then don’t spam others, don’t post copyrighted content without permission, and don’t pretend you’re someone you’re not. These are effectively universal rules that need to be adhered to at all times. Unless you want to test the system and challenge “the man.” And likely get banned as a result.
Have you ever been banned from one of the social networks included above? If so, was it intentional on your part? And what was your alleged crime? Feel free to recount your story in the comments section below, or alternatively use the opportunity to otherwise have your say on social networks and how they govern the users they attract.
Image Credits: Steve Snodgrass