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Downed Facebook accounts still haven't returned

It's been a week and some members say they still receive a "down for maintenance" error message when trying to access their profiles.

Something is really odd here.

As a reporter covering Facebook, I do get the occasional cranky complaints from members who, for one reason or another, are experiencing errors when they try to access their accounts. But it's never been anything like the past week, with a steady stream of e-mails continuing to come in from Facebook members who say they remain shut out of their accounts--despite assurance from Facebook that profiles have not been deleted and that the company is working on the problem.

"This is now seven days and counting," an e-mail sent on Saturday morning read. "It's beyond ridiculous and extremely frustrating."

"The experience completely reversed the Facebook opinion and experience for me," one reader complained. "I see many people bitch and complain, many more beg and a few threaten. To me, the route to take is fairly obvious. Mark Zuckerberg on his own page invites democratic input from Facebook users in one of his most recent videos. Given that statement especially, I find the way their user base is being treated with respect to their disabled account policy hypocritical at best."

"My account has now been held hostage for a week," another reader wrote. "Some of my friends think that I have deleted (my profile) or even blocked them...None of my friends or family can see my profile or even find it in search. It's as if I simply deleted my account or blocked all of them from seeing it without even a word."

Some users have started threads on Get Satisfaction and Yahoo Answers. A few others have pointed me to blogs and YouTube channels devoted to the subject.

The inaccessible accounts appear to be limited to a very small subset of Facebook's over 300 million active users, which means that it's not a large-scale issue for the health of the site. And Facebook is supported by neither subscription money or taxpayer dollars (though it wouldn't have advertising revenue without its users) so there's an argument to be made that users shouldn't be complaining about something they don't pay for. But that's an argument that many of the people who have come to rely on Facebook as a channel of communication simply don't buy.

Whether the string of complaints is warranted or not, Facebook hasn't disclosed exactly what's caused the "extended maintenance issue," and that's what I find puzzling.