LISTEN: An attorney from Columbus, Ga., is now collecting stories in the hope of helping others wrongfully sent to "Facebook jail." GPB's Orlando Montoya talks to him.

Jason Crawford is shown in a suit and tie for this posed photo.

Columbus attorney Jason Crawford created a social media buzz by suing Facebook over his deleted account and winning.

Credit: Jason Crawford

A Columbus attorney has created a social media buzz by suing Facebook — and winning. 

Jason Crawford won a $50,000 judgement against the social media giant after his account was wrongfully deleted. Now he’s collecting stories in the hope that he can help others in similar circumstances. Jason Crawford talked about his lawsuit with GPB’s Orlando Montoya.

Orlando Montoya: Let’s start with how you used Facebook. Was it like many people: family photos, vacations and politics?

Jason Crawford: That’s exactly it. I’ve told people that I had Facebook for exactly two uses: photos, videos of family members, myself, get togethers, that kind of thing.

Orlando Montoya: So you occasionally end up in Facebook jail?

Jason Crawford: I did. Yes. Guilty.

Orlando Montoya: But one day you woke up and Facebook told you that your account had been deleted. What did you think happened?

Jason Crawford: Well, my first instinct was to look in the mirror. I thought, "well, what did I say yesterday that the algorithms might have picked up on and not approved of?" And I wracked my brain and I couldn’t think of a thing. So then I started investigating a little bit more heavily. And I noticed when I would try to log on, I would get like a message that would last no more than a second, that said something about my being deleted for having violated community standards on child sexual exploitation. And then it went away. And when I saw that, I was outraged because I knew that couldn’t be true. So I started trying to investigate further and realized that there is literally no way to get a human being at Facebook.

Orlando Montoya: You found out later that your account had been hacked, but you didn’t know that at the time. So why did you decide to file a lawsuit?

Jason Crawford: The biggest thing is I wanted to get my pictures and my videos back. The one thing I think is ridiculous is that with Facebook — it’s really like a Catch-22 — in order to file your appeal, you have to have an account. So if they delete your account, you have no way to file the appeal that their terms of use say that you can file.

Orlando Montoya: I understand that Facebook never responded to your lawsuit in court and that you won, by default, a judgment that the company hasn’t even paid. So what does that tell you about how Facebook sees you and the court?

Jason Crawford: Well, I think they view themselves as higher than the law. I can’t understand why they would take this approach.

Orlando Montoya: This is one of the biggest companies in the world. Did it ever occur to you that this might not work or it would just be, you know, spitting in the wind?

Jason Crawford: Right. Well, you’ve got to keep in mind, my goal wasn’t to win a lawsuit and collect a bunch of money from Facebook. My goal was to get a human being to talk to me about what happened and I accomplished that goal. As soon as I got my judgment, within a few days, a lawyer for Facebook reached out to me. That’s how I learned that my account had been hacked. And that’s how I got my account restored to me. So, I have my photos and videos back.

Orlando Montoya: What have other Facebook users been telling you about their issues?

Jason Crawford: Everybody that I’ve encountered — and it’s literally been hundreds of people that have reached out to me since since the story hit — they’ve told similar stories, and lots of times, they’ve been two [types of] stories: One is, people who are distraught because they’ve lost all their photos, videos. And two, people who have their Facebook connected to a business account and then Facebook randomly and arbitrarily shuts them down and all of a sudden their business takes a hit.

Orlando Montoya: Do I hear class action?

Jason Crawford: Well, maybe. I’m not sure if that’s a path for success. And again, remember, my initial goal was just to get a human being. So, you don’t you don’t bring a class action just to get an audience with someone at Facebook. You bring class action because you’re trying to vindicate all the legal rights of all the class members. So I just have to make sure there’s a path going forward. And I’m not sure that’s the case. I’m still looking.

GPB reached out to Facebook for comment but so far hasn’t heard back.

Tags: Facebook  lawsuit  Georgia