Everyone's been reporting about how social networking sites like Facebook have become the primary form of communication during the devastating earthquake in Haiti this week. Unfortunately, this morning I started hearing reports from several people in Haiti who are now being blocked because they've sent so many messages in the past two days.
Facebook has a fail safe to prevent spam from happening, so often times accounts that are really active will be limited from sending messages. I suspect that's what is going on here - unfortunately, in this case, it has caught people like Els Vervoloet, who is the alumni director for Quisqueya Christian School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I lived in Haiti ten years ago and taught at this school - and all of Els's messages through Facebook have been the primary way I've known how people in the community are doing.
UPDATE: Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in an email to me in "very rare cases" some Facebook users in Haiti are encountering the system's automatic response to prevent spam.
If you're in Haiti and your entire profile has been blocked, contact Facebook here. That explains the warnings, and if you go directly to the "my account has been disabled section, that shows you how to email Facebook to get access back. (Note: this isn't something that can be done on a mobile phone, you have to do this on an actual computer.) Noyes also said the Facebook team will be looking through the system for the term "Haiti" and will expedite those requests.
Finally, Noyes said that Facebook was always looking at "adjusting and fine-tuning" their systems based on how people are using the site. "We're looking into the behavior we're seeing out of Haiti to analyze how our systems might be improved," he said.
Facebook said they're looking into it - I'll update when I hear back from them. If you're in Haiti and having a hard time, leave your name in the comments section below so we can see how widespread this problem is.