Disability advocate blocked on Facebook account for days while trying to raise awareness of important cause

CHICAGO (SCS) — Facebook may have started as a way to connect with your friends, but now it’s a key communication tool and platform for businesses. You can imagine that when your access is mysteriously cut off from all of this, you would be frustrated.

Meet an Aurora woman facing this at a time when she’s trying to raise awareness for a deeply personal cause.

These are the constants in our lives that keep us going, and Elana Newkirk has several; the daily walks with her dog Jake, her love of hockey (she’s a superfan with lots of swag showing it), and finally her health.

“At the age of 21, I had 25 surgeries,” she said.

Newkirk lives with spina bifida.

“I had braces when I was a kid, I lost my left foot in 1992,” she said.

It’s a battle that’s been with her for longer than she’d like.

“I am preparing for my 65th operation,” she said.

What it did was sharpen his voice as a defender. She sits on Aurora’s Disability Advisory Board and has spread the word on a series of listening events.

“They’re trying to get a sense of the community. What are they doing well? What can be better?” Newkirk said.

The first is this week, and to boost attendance, she went to share the flyer on Facebook.

“I went to share it, and before I even got there, Facebook was like, ‘Whoops, no, I can’t do that.’ Then they’ve locked me up ever since,” she said.

Newkirk said she didn’t know who, how or why; but suddenly she was kicked out of her account, unable to access it. She said she reported the issue to Facebook and sent identification documents as requested to try to restore her access.

“It was just a shock to me,” she said.

But she hasn’t heard anything from the social media giant, so she’s been shut out of one of its main modes of communication.

“They’re supposed to get back to you within 24 hours. It’s been 4 days,” she said.

It’s a kind of frustration that we’ve heard before.

“I’m pissed because my identity has been stolen,” said Vera Waters of Ashburn, who was scammed with no response.

Oak Lawn’s JoAnn Fakhouri, who did a lot of business through her Facebook account, has been banned from her company’s Facebook page – and even Facebook itself isn’t sure if it’s a scam or not .

The two women, and countless others, reached out to CBS 2 with their frustrations after days and weeks of struggling to reach Facebook. When we contacted the parent of Facebook Meta, they usually took the information from the people we profiled. Sometimes they come in, sometimes not.

“It bothers me that this happened, but it also really bothers me that it’s happening to more people too,” Newkirk said.

This has created a real barrier in the relationships Newkirk has built online and the kind of outreach she tries to do on behalf of people living with disabilities. She feels caught, and we can only hope this story helps her.

“Honestly, I wish there was something else that was a better alternative that worked like Facebook, but not like Facebook,” she said. “Because something is obviously broken here.”

We have contacted Meta several times to report Newkirk’s case, but they have yet to respond.

So in the meantime, we’ll do what she can’t do, which is talk about Aurora’s Disabled Listening Tour.

Meetings continue until May. For dates, times and locations, visit their website: https://www.aurora-il.org/2336/Events-for-Disabilities


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