- Facebook user Rachel Sines spent $400 on a headset and tablet to try and retrieve her account.
- Facebook deleted her account after she made a group for people whose loved ones joined QAnon.
- The company told Insider that it “incorrectly disabled” Sines’ account.
Rachel Sines lost 15 years of memories when Facebook deleted her account for creating a support group with the word “QAnon” in the title.
After spending more than $400 on an Oculus VR headset and Portal tablet to speak to customer service, she was still locked out.
Sines tried to contact Facebook for seven months about her disabled account, but never got a response. She was only logged back in once Insider contacted Facebook for this article.
Sines, from Florida, told Insider she was setting up a support group in February for people like herself whose friends and family had turned to the right-wing conspiracy theory, QAnon.
When she hit “submit,” she was locked out of her account. Facebook notified her that her account was disabled, she said.
“I lost 15 years of data in the blink of an eye… My dating journey, wedding, honeymoon, videos of our daughter’s first steps and baptism,” she said. “It was like I, and any trace of me, was eerily deleted.”
Sines never heard from Facebook
Sines, 42, filed an appeal via Facebook’s help center but received an automated message, seen by Insider, saying the company couldn’t review its decision to disable her account as it didn’t follow the site’s Community Standards.
“I still submitted this form several times a day for weeks,” she said.
She sent three emails to Facebook — one to appeals, one to the press department, and another to 10 Facebook email addresses — but got no response.
She forwarded Insider her emails to Facebook, Oculus, and Portal, as well as the receipts of her headset and Portal purchases.
Sines resorted to buying an Oculus VR headset for $318
Facebook users, like Sines, have bought Oculus headsets just to unlock their hacked or deleted Facebook accounts, NPR reported. Oculus, a virtual-reality company owned by Facebook, requires users to have a Facebook account to use the headset.
Sines’ account started working when she received the headset, but it was disabled without warning soon afterwards, she said.
Sines contacted Oculus again about the issue, according to emails seen by Insider. An Oculus employee told her that the account was disabled due to “previous activity that violated Facebook’s Community Standards.”
“Unfortunately, we’ve already asked Facebook to review your account and they’ve decided that the status will remain,” the Oculus employee told Sines in the email.
Sines also spent money on a Portal
The following day, she bought a $90 Portal, a video-calling tablet made by Facebook.
Insider viewed Sines’ email to Portal’s customer support team about help on retrieving her Facebook account to use the tablet. An employee replied, saying they were unable to assist and redirected her to Facebook’s help center.
“I contacted a few attorneys but they really didn’t want to touch it, well, because ‘Facebook,'” she said.
In April, Sines returned the headset and Portal, she said.
Facebook restored her account seven months later
Two days after Insider contacted Facebook about Sines’ situation, her account was reactivated. A Facebook spokesperson told Insider that Sines’ account was “incorrectly disabled” and “the account was mistakenly caught in one of our checks” for misinformation and harmful content.
“We do sometimes make mistakes when reviewing content,” the spokesperson said.
Although Sines is nervous that her account will get disabled again, she’s happy to be back online.
“It was like losing a limb, I didn’t realize how intertwined it had become in my life,” she said.
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