Just a few weeks after Facebook changed its name to “Meta”, the long-time owner of @metaverse Instagram was suddenly locked out of the account she had had for years. A message announced Thea-Mai Baumann that she was suspended for identity theft, even though she had never posed as anyone else. Her account was returned after the New York Times wrote a story about the ordeal, but the company never gave an explanation of how the mistake was made.
What happened to her was unusual, but one aspect of Baumann’s story is more common: People who have been wrongly banned from their social media accounts often have little or no way of getting them back (at least not without media attention).
Now that group may have another option. The “robot attorney” company DoNotPay, which offers automated legal services, has a new offer: to get social media accounts unbanned.
Included in DoNotPay’s $ 36 monthly subscription, the new service gives users an alternative to emailing corporate help center bots or sending appeals that may never be answered. Instead, DoNotPay asks users for information about what happened to them and sends a letter to the legal department of the relevant company on their behalf.
Do not pay
“These platforms prioritize legal cases,” Joshua Browder, CEO of DoNotPay, told Engadget. “If you’re just writing to customer service, they’re not really taking it seriously.” Legal departments, on the other hand, are much more likely to react, he says.
In the complaint, the company also attempts to “match” your complaint with a “legal reason why they can’t prohibit you,” using any applicable state and federal laws. The letter also includes a time limit for the company to respond. He says PayPal and Instagram have been some of the most requested unlocking services so far. But the service will work with other platforms too, including Twitter, Snapchat, Uber, Tinder, YouTube, Twitch, and others.
But even if the appeal is ultimately unsuccessful, Browder says there are other benefits to the process. On the one hand, companies are obliged to surrender user data regardless of whether their account has been blocked. For example, even if you cannot regain access to your Instagram account, DoNotPay can ensure that the company will hand over your account information. There’s also the fact that sending a legal reminder letter can be a much bigger headache for a business than scolding customer service reps.
“Generally in America they have the right to ban you,” says Browder. “We’re not exaggerating that we can work miracles, but we can severely punish them and get your data.”
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