Inflated loan fees

My Facebook Login Lockout Ordeal and How I Prevailed

Last weekend we took a vacation to the Island House in Corpus Christi on North Padre Island for 4 days. While there, late one night, while checking email and logging into Facebook, I was presented with the following login message:

Your account was recently accessed from a location we’re not familiar with. For your protection, please review your recent activity to make sure no one is using your Facebook account without permission.

Reviewing your activity takes just a few moments. We’ll start by asking you a couple of questions to confirm that this is your account. (If we recognize your computer, you’ll be able to skip this step.)


I guess Facebook, in its infinite wisdom, thinks if I’m logging in from my laptop in another city (different IP address than usual), something might possibly be amiss, and I must therefore validate myself by passing a test. The “couple of questions” turned out to be a photo lineup of 7 “friends” whom I had to identify from photo arrays, selecting from 6 possible names for each individual, or choosing “I’m not sure”.

Only two selections of “I’m not sure” are allowed, and ZERO incorrect answers are allowed. Each “friend” has two photos to review, some which are indistinguishable, my favorite being when the square surrounds a tiny spec of a face within a picture hanging on a wall in the background.

But mainly, with most photos being of decent enough quality, the question remained, Who are these people?! (my “friends”). I don’t recognize any of them, let alone enough to go 5 for 5. Each failed effort requires a 1 hour waiting period before a new try. Meanwhile, my iPhone access still worked, as did the granted permissions from 3rd party tools such as, from which I make most of my status updates, so I wasn’t totally “gone” from the standpoint of status updates, but was unable to log in from a web browser and do anything on Facebook.

This morning I’d had enough. Somehow I would defeat this validation system and regain control of my Facebook account. I finally did. Here’s how.

First of all, how did I end up with a bunch (718) of “friends”, most of whom I can’t even identify in a photo? For starters, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stated long ago that a “friend” on Facebook isn’t like a “real life” friend. He or she is simply a Social Network friend with whom you’d like to be connected for some reason, perhaps because you share a common connection such as graduating from the same college, or you’re both onto knitting, you’re friends with common friends, or you share the same occupation.

In my case, the latter category was the culprit. More specifically, as a former member of the Keller Williams “network” on Facebook, and as a Realtor, I accumulated a bunch of Realtor “friends” online. This would be the key to figuring out how to reclaim my login.

As I stared at the first set of photos this morning, again wondering “who the heck is that?“, it occurred to me that the unknown person was most likely a Realtor, and thus, if I Google their name + “Realtor”, there is a good chance I might find a photo of the Realtor with that name and be able to compare it to the photo I was evaluating.

And so, one by one, I cut and pasted each name next to each photo and added “Realtor” to the end. One was a dead on match. Easy. One down, four to go. For two others, reasonable guesses had to suffice because, oddly, the “real life” facebook photos of some Realtors (one male, one female), taken at a picnic for example, and grilling a burger, cause those poor Realtors to look 20+ years older than the professional photo headshot which appears on their websites!

This required a lot of back and forth, studying of eyebrows, nose shapes, hair style, shape of mouth, etc., to try to be as certain as possible. For the female, I just picked the one that looked most like a daughter of the subject. For the male Realtor, I had to enlist the help of my 17 year old daughter. “Could this possible be that guy?”, I asked, after ruling out all the others. She agreed that it could be him – the eyes looked sort of the same – but she couldn’t be sure either. Remember, no wrong answers are allowed. I made the selection and proceeded, fairly unsure if it was the right pick. For the next photo I lucked out and had a Realtor Convention Photo, and there right on his shirt, was a big name badge with the first name visible and readable.

For the final photo, in some sign of devine intervention since I was all out of “Not Sure” answers, I got someone I actually know and recognize in real life and who looks exactly like her photo. This was the first time it had happened in all my attempts.

And then the moment of truth… the final click… and …. low and behold, I was back in!

Jeez. I’m not even what I would consider “addicted” to Facebook, but it really irked me to be locked out like that. There is no way to reach someone at Facebook by phone – I tried. All solution efforts direct you to the help page, which says you simply have to answer the questions correctly. I’m now seriously thinking of unfriending people I don’t actually know again.

But, really, how stupid is it of Facebook to constantly be suggesting “friends”, trying to get us all to add people we don’t actually know, and then to use face recognition of said “friends” as the one and only way to prove that the account is yours after they lock you out.

Steve Crossland

Steve is a Real Estate Blogger, UT Austin Grad, Real Estate Broker and owner of Crossland Team and Crossland Real Estate in Austin TX.

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startupgrrl - 9 years ago

Truly an ordeal. This just goes to show that in times of crisis, a clear head always prevails!

Michael @ The Stage Coach - 9 years ago

HI, Steve:
I am impressed that you were able to maintain your composure… I would have been swearing a blue streak. I suppose this security is a good thing, but perhaps Facebook should rely on questions based upon your personal information that was entered. Then again, I think I filled mine out a year ago, so I could not tell you what book I was reading at that time, nor what my favorite movie was.

And I have to ask,
‘the “real life” facebook photos of some Realtors… cause those poor Realtors to look 20+ years older than the professional photo headshot which appears on their websites!”

Is it the Facebook photo that makes them look 20 years older? Or is it the headshot was taken 20 years ago?

Which reminds me: time to update my headshot – it was 3 years and 20lbs ago…

Steve Crossland - 9 years ago

Hi Michael,

> Is it the Facebook photo that makes them look 20 years older?

Yes. In other words, in the photo array, you see an actual photo of an aging person taken in a real life setting. I assume FB pulls this from tags and/or albums. You then Google their name and find their Realtor website. The person in the headshot looks much better and younger than the “real life” photo that FB presented. Some don’t even look at all like the same person.


Maintenance Man - 9 years ago

I personally don’t use FaceBook. But can you “defriend” these people you dont know? If not, then I guess you better get to know you “friends”. Heheh.

Kelly - 9 years ago

Funny story. Thanks for sharing.

Debbie Jackson - 9 years ago

That is so weird! We spent last week in Galveston and I checked my Facebook every day while we were there and all I had to do was log on with my email and password and never experienced what you did.

williamsm2k10 - 9 years ago

HI, william
I am impressed that you were able to maintain your composure… I would have been swearing a blue streak. I suppose this security is a good thing, but perhaps Facebook should rely on questions based upon your personal information that was entered. Then again, I think I filled mine out a year ago, so I could not tell you what book I was reading at that time, nor what my favorite movie was.

marian - 9 years ago

I have been unable to access my facebook since July because of a phishing scam. I have tried e-mail to whoever I can with no success. I get to confirmation code and then I am blocked. Anyone have any ideas?

Doug - 9 years ago

Same here just now…found this page searching for the same problem. Fortunately I recognized all the photos.

I’d been in one city less than an hour from here and had logged into facebook multiple times then drove here this afternoon and tried the free wifi in the lobby…same hotel chain as I’d been in the prior couple of days. This place must have some odd configuration difference as it just stalled when I’d try to log in again and again…perhaps that behavior coupled with the odd location/IP caused it to look suspicious.

I’d prefer they send me a message via the email account associated with the FB account and have a verifaction link there. Glad you and I were able to get back online.

Steve Crossland - 9 years ago

> Fortunately I recognized all the photos.

Doug, that’s nice that you actually know all your friends. I now do actually recognize most of mine, but I paired it WAY down and now have only 165. I see some people with over 1,000 or more and I wonder how they’ll ever get logged in if they get locked out like I did. Very few, if any of us, can possible know and recognize 1000s of “friends”.


Cowboy Claws Cattery - 9 years ago

I’ve got this same situation that you describe. Only I have over 1000 international “friends” that are mostly catteries who share pictures of cats with each other. We need to see cat pictures to see the trends etc and to know what is available.

The problem is that their profile picture is a cat but the facebook multiple choice picture is maybe a picture from the farm game that is posted on their wall – a game they are playing – and maybe their wall is private so I can’t get the information off their wall. So I wouldn’t know Triscal Cattery based on a picture of some carrots that they bought in the farm game.

Also the picture could be out of a private photo album from 3 years before I even knew the person. And maybe it’s a picture of the dinner they had that day. I can only get into their private photos if I’m their friend and I can only do that if I can log in.So I wouldn’t recognize Triskal Cattery based on a bowl of cherries from 2003.

If I were to add all these people as my friends in another account so I could see their private pictures, I would be kicked off because it would be too many names at once. Can you give me your next idea since you were able to get past the progam that Facebook has named “Roadblock” in the IP address.

It would take years to reaquire all these cattery contacts..

william - 8 years ago

well for starters i tried to go on face book through my phone and now i am locked out from my phone and my home computer i cant get on anywhere now what do i do i cant contact face book there is no “contact us” button to get help on signing in

cowboyclaws - 8 years ago

oh yeah William you are now screwed. If any of your facebook friends play any of those silly games like farmville, they will show you a picture of carrots and ask you to identify which friend it is.
after a couple of months, if you keep trying to guess who your firends are based on the pictures, they add another option that’s more reasonable so you can get back in.
If you search for the programmers of facebook who are developing the new programs and post on their blogs about your situation, that might help.
It’s discrimination for them to require you to look at pictures and guess who they belong to, as the only option because many people have visual disabilities and are unable to do that. I pursued that angle with the facebook programmers on their blogs.

jeannie dorman - 8 years ago

I am now locked out of facebook and have been since friday and today is Monday~~I was given no notice of lock out and was not given a reason~~I was asked to send a scanned copy of my drivers license and change my password~~~I did both several times upon each of their repetitious emails~~~facebook is not my life~~but I think they believe for some reason that I am not who I say I am~~~since they have not given me a reason, I just don’t know~~I even had my credit card company try to help because I thought it was because of a credit card action I had made on facebook~~my credit card company(I have been with since 1990)even tried to contact facebook to no avail~~~I have yet not heard from facebook as to me meeting their requirements~~I don’t know what else to do~~~and why is facebook allowed to do a lock out and not have a means to contact a person employed by facebook~~so just like some of you ~~I am at the mercy of facebook~~what concerns me most is why did I get locked out~~~anyone have any suggestions?~~plus, I cannot believe that I actually sent them my drivers license~~~but I was angry and totally disturbed that I am 67 and have to deal with this type of negligent business~~thank you

Ruf - 8 years ago

My 25 year old son got “locked-out” of Facebook. The ONLY way they would let him back in was by demanding a scanned copy of his Driver License be emailed to them.
NO reason, NO explanation…NOTHING. He works in the ER ward of a hospital…his isn’t a scammer, spammer or hacker.
Either he cough-up a drivers license matching his Facebook name or he could forget ever logging in again. Unfortunately, he played their F’ing game and complied with their ridiculous demands. I explained to him that his license would be compiled, analyzed and stored on their servers FOR ETERNITY. His scanned license is now THEIR property…read the terms of conditions if you doubt that.
After researching this, he isn’t the only one to go through this BS. Facebook calls it “roadblocking”. If people like him tolerate this non-sense, “roadblocking” will only become more pervasive. He has decided to terminate his account…if that’s even possible.

MC - 8 years ago

Ruf–who did you and your son contact regarding this issue? I’ve been locked out od my account for nearly 3 weeks but I havent been able to contact anyone from the facebook team.

Kim - 8 years ago

I AM LOCKED OUT FOR NO REASON AND CANT GET BACK IN. I DO DOG RESCUES. NOW MANY WILL DIE THANKS TO THIS CRAP.. They really need to start going after hsoe that abuse Fb not those of us who use it to do good.

Jax Cullen - 7 years ago

I’m going through this right now. It’s a nightmare. I did go through the photo lineup. I got back in. Less than 5 mins later, it locked me out AGAIN. This time it wanted different things. I emailed support and immediately got back a message

Unfortunately, we can’t assist you until you reply and attach identification that verifies the name submitted in your request.

Please attach a copy of one government-issued ID (ex: driver’s license or passport) or two documents from a respected institution or business. Together these documents must show your full name, photo, and date of birth.

Some examples of acceptable documents include:

– School or work ID
– Utility bill
– Marriage license
– Legal name change paperwork
– Credit card (with the number blacked out)
– Birth certificate

If possible, save this file as a JPEG and cover up any personal information that we don’t need to verify your identity (ex: address, license number). We also recommend sending your attachments over a secure connection. Find out more here:

Note that we won’t be able to assist you until we receive the proper documents.

The Facebook Team

Well, I did send them my scanned state issued proof I AM ME. I received no response. I followed up again, sending them a screen shot from my university profile page, still no response. So frustrating. I’ve received absolutely NO information other than the message I pasted above. I have no explanation as to why it was locked out. I did switch from a PC to a MacBook Pro today, but I’m on the same IP, same router as before.

Your point is excellent! “For starters, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stated long ago that a “friend” on Facebook isn’t like a “real life” friend…how stupid is it of Facebook to constantly be suggesting “friends”, trying to get us all to add people we don’t actually know, and then to use face recognition of said “friends” as the one and only way to prove that the account is yours after they lock you out.”

Serenity - 7 years ago

This is what I did for the same problem:

1. Create a new free email address (gmail, yahoo,
2. Create a new FB profile with this new address.
3. “Friend” my locked out account.
4. Here, I was allowed to view “Friends of oldaccount” and view their photos so I could then complete the FB photo challenge.

It took a couple tries, as it doesn’t like it if you take too long, but eventually I prevailed!

What a PAIN! most of my friends had photos of babies! How do I know which one goes with which??

Anyway, yours was a great suggestion, with got me to think about accessing the my friends list from another account.

Luvs - 7 years ago

Serenity – I did almost the same thing for my son and room mate when they got locked out – I went to their friends list and went person by person to find the pictures that we were seeing on their computers – it’s a mess… their Customer Service is crap and just hope that you don’t have a common name and no one ever reports you as being dead…. then you have to prove your still alive…

TraceyMarie - 6 years ago

It is a nightmare.. It just happened to me.. It asks you to identify picture from a friends album not just their profile pic.. OMG I tried once and failed and wasn’t allowed to try again for an hour.. Luckily and I mean luckily I got in on my second attempt… I was locked out because some Idiot reported my page as fake! I can not believe that Facebook will lock you out without checking for themselves!!!

onye lauritta - 6 years ago

My facebook was locked on the 9th of april 2013 witout any reason,no information, no alert, pls why do they do so? Since then I have not log into my facebk acct. Pls I need help, suggestion

ellie owens - 6 years ago

samething just happened. after I unfriended a person on facebook. facebook keeps asking for my Credit card info, and all the other stuff everyone else gets. Well i am not on it that much. so Facebook lost a customer. tis a pity. i knew alot of people

Bob - 6 years ago

Same thing is happeneing to me BUT…I cannot access most of the friend photos of the locked account from a new account if I were to open one due to the fact that within the locked account I made most of my friends lists private ! So,DAMN ! I guess I’m REALLY screwed ! I’ve got photos in that account that I may need for a possible lawsuit too 🙁 🙁 🙁

Iesza - 5 years ago

My new business is depending on my international Facebook contacts. I logged in when I landed in New York for a trade convention weekend that involves my friends and connection! I have just lost ALL trace of my connections. I have 600 new friends and being “new friends” I can’t recognize even a third of them. But the 40 that I do really talk to and work with -all- the time never showed up as recognize photo options! At bare minimum FB should ask you to recognize the ones you talk to most !! , I am out thousands of near-future dollars because of this! I had contract conversations going and if I just don’t respond….?????…. How does that look for business????? F-you Facebook !

Iesza - 5 years ago

So after a few days Facebook sent me an option to ask “other” questions….like my birthdate and things I’ve said…. Which was easy and I’m back in. Why they suddenly sent a different option when I tried to log in for the fifth time, I have no idea. But I’m in again.

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