Facebook causes headache for photographer

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Company gives no explanation for suspending Greg Wise’s account

Greg Wise didn’t know what to do with himself last week: He was in Facebook jail.

“There was a big void in my life,” Wise said. “I was worried I’d never be able to be on Facebook again.”

The Powell photographer didn’t know what he did to have his account suspended and he couldn’t get answers from the web giant. Yet, if those with accounts on the site were considered customers, Wise would be considered one of their best.

Wise has 3,106 friends and currently has either started or is an administrator for seven pages (including the Powell Panther Fans and other Powell High School sports pages, Wonderful Wyoming and Wyoming Night Skies) which have thousands of followers between them.

Wise has been photographing Powell school events since he sold his appliance store in 2001. Effectively retired, he became Mr. Mom. With three children in school, Wise devoted most of his time to the city’s education system. But his volunteer work didn’t end when his children graduated from PHS. He’s continued to cover events — even receiving a school jacket with “Team Photographer” inscribed on the back from fans of his work.

“I do anything I can to help our schools,” Wise said.

Almost everyone in town knows Wise. And his area event photos, shared in albums on his Facebook pages, number in the tens of thousands. He even schedules vacations around state championship tournaments.

“Thanks Greg. Because of you we all get to share in so many of the activities of our kids and grandkids!” Bobbie Cloninger wrote on one of Wise’s many posts this week.

Last week alone he covered football, several volleyball games, the Homecoming Olympics and Homecoming. It would be a busy week for a professional photographer. But Wise has a strange way of charging for reprints.

“If someone wants a few prints, I might ask for Wilcoxon Fudge Bars or Drumsticks,” Wise said.

Those who know Wise well, know he likes his chocolatey treats. And he loves to share his photos online. He doesn’t have a website of his own; all his online time is spent on Facebook.

Wise first found out his account was suspended when trying to log in to the site Wednesday. He got a message that his account was removed for violating one of the site’s rules. But he had no idea what he did — the site only listed a group of rules he might have broken. It also gave him a link to click if he felt he was suspended in error.

He contacted the site several times by email, as there is no Facebook phone number to call. He only received form letters in reply, none of which provided the answers he sought.

“Everything was gone. Even my photos. Even if someone shared one of my photos, they were gone. It was like I never existed. No past. No present,” Wise said.

Wise was hurt, but true to his spirit, he was polite in his inquiries. He just wanted to know what he did and to rejoin his community. Wise’s friends are spread around the world, from his neighbors in Powell to as far away as Tasmania.

The Powell Tribune contacted Facebook in an attempt to find out what happened.

Their response: “Thanks for contacting Facebook’s press office. We know you might be on deadline, so we’ll do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.”

There was no other response as of press time. The form letter response also suggested checking out the Facebook community forum “where thousands of other people on Facebook are answering and asking questions.”

A quick search turned up many questions on the topic. One person posted under the topic “My page has been suspended and I don’t know why.” A Facebook Help Team member replied, “If you feel that your Page was removed in error, you’re able to appeal that decision by filling out the form at this link ...”

That, coincidentally, is exactly what Wise was advised when he was locked out. Almost exactly 48 hours after being suspended Wise’s account was reinstated. He didn’t receive notice from the site — one of his many friends noticed his suspension was over.

While it has its flaws, Wise is happy to be back on Facebook. He has thought of starting his own website, but knows fewer people will be able to share in his photography. But in the back of his mind, he’ll always know, in an instant and without warning, it could all be gone.

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