Find Out if Shaking Your Phone Can Accidentally Put a Friend’s Profile in ‘Facebook Jail?’
I hope you're sitting down because I'm getting ready to drop a bomb that's going to make you look like the exploding head emoji. Ready? Here we go. I'm going to rip the band-aid off in three..two...Not everything people share on social media is true.
Are you okay? Do you need a glass of water? Maybe a cool towel to put on your forehead? I could say I'm sorry to be the one that has to tell you this, but that would be a lie. Truth be told, I'm happy to do it if it will help people stop sharing misinformation. Chances are it won't, but a guy can dream, right?
The reason I'm bringing this to your attention is that I recently saw someone share a meme that read,
Your public service announcement for today:
The recent FB update added this new feature for mobile FB users. Since this update - many of my friends have landed in FB jail multiple times (yes, that's a real place and there's no fair trial or bail out options!). It seems many of us are accidentally "reporting a problem" and getting our friends thrown in jail.
How can you fix it?
When you're in FB, shake your phone around until this shows up. Then slide that "shake phone to report a problem" button to OFF!
It's CRAZY that none of us knew this had been added and that was automatically ON with the update
Fixe your phones...Let's keep our friends out of FB jail!
The person who shared it claimed in their status they had tried it and it worked. I'm pretty sure I shook my head, rolled my eyes, and let out a little chuckle. "How gullible can people be?" I thought. But, I didn't want to just brush the person off as crazy, so I opened my Facebook app and shook it like I was making a margarita fully expecting nothing to happen.
But then this showed up on my screen (or as they say on social media — What Happened Next was Absolutely Jaw-Dropping!):
Huh. I did not see that coming.
It was at this point where I believe the person I saw share it took it as gospel, stopped what they were doing, quickly turned off the feature, and ran through Facebooktown (i.e. everyone's news feed) to alert the innocent townspeople of yet another feature the evil Facebook overlords snuck in while we weren't paying attention like some kind of whistleblowing superhero.
(Stream of Conscious Thought: If none of us trust Facebook, why do we all still use it? Another thought for another time, perhaps.)
I took a slightly different route.
What the Meme Gets Right
Obviously, the first sentence of the meme is true. The feature clearly exists. A quick Google search of, "shaking your phone while on facebook" brought up pages upon pages of results. As it turns out, the feature has been around for a while, and so has the meme warning it's being used to suspend users' accounts.
Facebook "quietly" rolled the feature out to mobile users over two years ago in May of 2019, according to Snopes. The reason being that Facebook wanted it to make it as easy as possible for users to report an issue like a bug, or something not working as it should, according to an article they cite from Engaget. Apparently, tapping the three lines in the lower right corner of the screen, scrolling down to the Help & Support section, and tapping Report a Problem was just too many steps for some people. If I may borrow from another piece of viral content, "Ain't nobody got time for that."
What the Meme Gets Wrong
Everything past the first sentence, basically. Shaking your phone will not automatically send your friend to the dark, cold abyss that is "Facebook Jail." For starters, which friend would it send? The one whose post is in the middle of your screen? The one above it? The one below it?
Secondly, activating the feature doesn't automatically report whatever issue you're having. There are still steps you have to take. You have to tap the big, blue Report a Problem button first, then takes you to this screen where you tell customer service exactly what the problem is and share a screengrab if you want.
Finally, if someone on your feed did share something you find to be offensive, or don't think needs to be on Facebook for whatever reason, right under the blue button is a link where you can learn how to report abuse, including the steps you need to take to do so.
The point is, even if you somehow managed to get the option to pop up while your phone was in your pocket or purse, it would still require a few steps that would require your thumbs to tap the button and type out a message. It is extremely unlikely, dare I say, impossible, that would happen.
I want to be clear about something before I wrap this up. I'm not trying to defend Facebook here. If the recent whistleblower's story is to be believed, they're not afraid to tread into some shady practices. However, in my opinion, and based on the research I've done, this doesn't appear to be one of those cases.
Let me leave you with this one bit of advice, if I may. Before you blindly share something on social media because it appears to be true, and part of it is backed up with physical proof like this one, take just a couple of minutes to do a little research to verify it is first. If more of us did that, we might be able to clean up the cesspool that is social media one false meme at a time.
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