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It’s becoming a tradition at this time of year. I receive a frantic call or email from someone who has been locked out of their Facebook account and asked to provide proof that they are a “real” person. Facebook typically asks for a copy of photo I.D. showing your real name or they show you the profile pics of random people in your friend’s list and asks you to name them. Yes - those are real requests and you haven’t been “hacked”. If it’s the first offence, they might just lock your account for 24 hours.

Why did it happen? Facebook thinks you’re spamming. At this time of year, so many businesses are running 12 Days of Christmas contests asking you to “tag friends”, “share this post”, etc.  These types of contests are against Facebook's Terms of Service (ToS), but instead of penalizing the businesses running these contests, they “jail” the people who are entering them.

The best way to stay out of jail? Don’t enter any contests that ask you to tag friends or share the post.

If you are a business, understand Facebook's ToS regarding contests - “Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend's Timeline to get additional entries”, and "tag your friends in this post to enter" are not permitted). Full rules available at https://www.facebook.com/policies/pages_groups_events/ - see 3. Promotions on Pages, Groups, and Events

Make sure your Facebook account is in your real name. If your I.D. and account name don’t match - you will not be able to regain access to your account.

I love entering contests as a hobby - but I stay well clear of any Facebook contest that asks me to share and tag my friends. The prize offered isn’t worth the risk. If you are interested in entering contests, have a look at http://forums.redflagdeals.com/contests-f34/

To view an example of a well run Facebook contest check out www.facebook.com/rexalldrugstore/