Me and my friend have joined forces to create a side project - fitnessblip.com. The biggest mistake was to get a $5 DigitalOcean droplet and use it for our production without checking the IP address first.

Blocked by Google SMTP

After setting up the website and running it in production for a while, I thought, hey, this $5 droplet is using barely no resources, why can’t I slap Postfix on it and make it send emails? And so I did, just to notice that test emails to my Google inbox have bounced with following error:

Action: failed
Status: 5.7.1
Remote-MTA: dns; gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com
Diagnostic-Code: smtp; 550-5.7.1 [<OUR IP ADDRESS HERE> 1] Our system has
detected an unusual rate of 550-5.7.1 unsolicited mail originating from
your IP address. To protect our 550-5.7.1 users from spam, mail sent from
your IP address has been blocked. 550-5.7.1 Please visit 550-5.7.1
https://support.google.com/mail/?p=UnsolicitedIPError to review our 550
5.7.1 Bulk Email Senders Guidelines. n84si23842177qkn.163 - gsmtp

Okay. That explains a lot (I was scratching my head why Pinterest keeps blocking us at that point). I wrote both Google and DigitalOcean about this. DigitalOcean support was amazing and fast, they offered to recreate the droplet on new IP, and so I did. It helped, Google was no longer blocking the emails from new IP.

However, Pinterest was still blocking us, since they apparently blacklisted the domain name because it was once hosted on spammer IP.

Blocked by Pinterest

I was testing Pinterest integration and noticed that after few days of pinning our website got blocked completely. When trying to pin, it said “Sorry, we blocked this link because it may lead to inappropriate content”. What inappropriate content? I opened a ticket at help.pinterest.com, explaining that I did nothing wrong, and asking why our perfectly legit website could be blocked as “inappropriate content”.

Then the fun started. My first ticket got closed without response. Just closed a couple of days after it was opened. I then received the standard Zendesk follow up email asking “How would you rate our customer support?”. I rated it bad, obviously, and opened another ticket.

Two days later, my second ticket was closed, also with no response, with another “How do you rate our customer support?” email. At that point I already knew that we have hosted our website on IP address that previously belonged to spammers. Since then we have changed the IP and enabled CloudFlare, but Pinterest kept blocking the site.

I gave it a week and tried contacting their support again. Again, got no response, again asking to rate the support. At that point I got so pissed that I registered pinterestcustomersupport.com domain with hopes to put something funny in there, which I still did not do. I am willing to give the ownership of this domain to Pinterest for free, if they help me solve my ticket, how about that?

I also started reaching out to Pinterest through social networks, since there seemed to be no way to contact them though help.pinterest.com. And that was my final mistake.

Also, while researching ways to reach Pinterest, I found that their customer support is really, and I mean really horrible. How can such a successful company neglect customer support so much and get away with it? Who knows.

Banned by Facebook

I never used Facebook much aside from integration development tasks at work, and managing business websites of my side projects. Therefore I only had a dummy development account, which unfortunately didn’t have my real name on it, even though I used it for years. And I was naive enough to use that account to post comments under Pinterest’s Facebook posts asking for help and complaining about their broken customer support.

Of course, people at Pinterest flagged my comments, and since I didn’t have much activity on my development Facebook account, Facebook has banned me on premise that my account was created for harassment. If I wanted to unblock my account, Facebook had an appeal process, which consists of giving them a copy of your documents that prove that blocked account is yours. Here I had a major problem. My account was named “Tom Warr”, which is just a shortened variant of my full name. The test account was also registered using an email address that no longer works, and it was not my main email address.

I said myself, oh well, there is tough chance I’ll get my account back, so I’ll just register a new, real account under my main email address, which is my full name at gmail.com. So I did that, created an account, entered my full name, real birthday, and then they suggested me a bunch of friends that they somehow know I’m familiar with, all that.

But then my newly created account got merged with my developer account and got blocked again. When I tried to log in with my main email address, it displays that I'm “Tom Warr” - the name from my blocked development account.

So far I had a 12 emails long conversation with Facebook customer support (which is way better than Pinterest one, because they at least do respond, and do it reasonably fast), though things are going nowhere.

It seems like I’m not welcome to use Facebook anymore, because even though I gave a copy of my passport, drivers license and personal identification card, my appeals to get the account back were refused, because “the data on identity documents do not match the name and birthday on blocked account”.

This sad story ends here. An unfortunate event of starting a project on IP address which belonged to a spammer put both the project and myself in jeopardy. Trying to prove something to customer support of huge corporations is not a battle a nobody like myself can win. And I cannot register a Facebook account and use their developer tools either. I also lost access to all my Facebook Pages and Apps.

I hope others can learn from my mistakes. Check every IP address before putting your project on it in production. Oh, and also, don't keep your apps and business pages on Facebook account that has a different full name and birthday than your passport does.