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Facebook locks out business pages without warning or remedy

Facebook pages locked out

Tech writer Ken Fisher at Ars Technica woke up recently and logged in to Facebook to find his business page locked with no warning. So did sex blogger Violet Blue. Dave Legg from Neowin, photographer Mark Weikert, and the iPod Touch Blog did as well. They claim there was no warning, no explanation and no recourse. Can you imagine sipping coffee on the patio first thing in the morning and watching the sunrise then opening your Facebook to see your page you’ve worked so hard on locked?

Ken Fisher reached out to Facebook who after a long period of their being “non responsive,” sent an email that led him to a generic link on their help page about copyright violations.

Judge, jury and executioner

Fisher said, “Prior to the account lockout, we had received no notices of infringement or warnings. Truly, we awoke to find that Facebook had summoned a judge, jury, and executioner and carried out its swift brand of McJustice all without bothering to let us know that there was even a problem.”

Neowin’s Facebook page was removed several time for alleged copyright infringement and noted the only recourse is for the person who complained to retract the claim for page restoration. Fisher notes that the system is flawed in that people can file fake claims with fake contact information and Facebook doesn’t investigate, rather freezes accounts.

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Facebook assigning locked pages to other users!?!?

Some users have even contacted Facebook explaining their legitimate rights to the content (especially photographers) but Facebook favors the complainant. Photographer Mark Weikert claims he too had anonymous complainants and Facebook allegedly assigned a “fan” as the admin who proceeded to rename it and take over the page. He had to start over from scratch.

The Touch iPod Blog’s Facebook was in violation for posting content. From their blog. What? Facebook’s official response to the locked pages is PR spin about how important intellectual property laws are to them.

How Realtors are impacted

Thousands of Realtors now have Facebook pages for their business and use it essentially as a storefront to attract visitors and engage consumers on their preferred turf. This is fantastic, we’ve always recommended doing so.

But what if your most successful lead generator (if it is that for you) is taken away with no explanation and recourse? Isn’t Facebook in America where our culture is innocent until proven guilty? Facebook changes their policies and privacy setting so frequently, no one can be reasonably expected to keep up with that minutia.

On the other hand, we are very protective of intellectual property. AGBeat is copied, scraped, quoted, used and straight up stolen from with no attribution. Conference speakers use the site as research for their talking points, bloggers steal our research and quote our numbers as their own, our articles are reprinted without permission and the list goes on.

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The current state is unacceptable, Facebook.

That said, Facebook should have a warning system or some sort of complaint process. The current state is ridiculously easy to abuse and thus it is happening in rising frequency. Real estate is an insanely petty industry with a small percentage of people that are willing to do anything to hurt a competitor from falsely reporting a Facebook page for copyright infringement to kicking down yard signs. We all know that guy (or gal).

We’re not saying Facebook needs to have a court room and a jury and fancy wigs, but some form of recourse other than giving your page away MUST be implemented.

Realtors, on your business page, don’t post to Facebook anything you didn’t create or write. Facebook, you cannot walk on water and you are not omnipresent, and your smug behavior is offensive to those of us who use your service, buy ads or click ads keeping you in your ivory tower.

Have you experienced a page lock out? Tell us about it in comments.

Ars Technica deserves gratitude for their persistence with Facebook in getting answers, albeit closure for the masses is not guaranteed.

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Updates

It is alleged that in the UK, activist websites are being removed for “violation of terms” with no explanation. OpenDemocracy.net says they are in indirect contact with Facebook and have not ruled out a government connection yet and questions the timing as tensions rise in the nation.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Liz Benitez

    April 29, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    OUCH!! So far I have not been locked out <crosses fingers, knocks on wood>.

  2. Paula Henry

    April 29, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Ah!! Crazy! There is some truth to the thought of building your business on rented property, where you have no control. What's the alternative? Everyone presumably is on Facebook, but does it matter if you wake up one day and can't communicate with them.

    • Lani Rosales

      May 3, 2011 at 10:04 am

      Or what if *their* servers go down and your storefront is closed and you have no one to call?

  3. Mary Pope-Handy

    April 29, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    That's pretty awful. I have to think that FB will get its act together and not be so capricious. My biz page is not a big part of my business (my blogs are) but I'd still be VERY upset if it suddenly disappeared.

    • Lani Rosales

      May 3, 2011 at 10:05 am

      Mary, if Google is any indicator, I don't think it will get its act together. For example, if you blog on Blogger and you are reported as being in violation of any terms of service, your blog is taken down… who do you suppose you can call at Google? That's right- no one, so you better have some press contacts, that's the only way people have gotten restoration is making a fuss. Just like these companies are having to do with Facebook. What a shame.

  4. Nick Bastian

    April 29, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    It amazes me how many social media gurus in our market are touting FB as the end all- be all for market domination. I sat in a class recently where a guy was "teaching" agents how to be "found on page 1 of Google." One of his brilliant remarks was to tell agents they no longer need a website or a blog because they have everything they need in Facebook, Active Rain and some cheesy "single property website."
    ugh…

    • Lani Rosales

      May 3, 2011 at 10:07 am

      Like T said, it's good for Realtors ahead of the game if the gurus spout this, but for the industry, it's bad news.

  5. Teresa Boardman

    May 1, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I can not think of any situation where we use something that is owned by someone else for free and get to control it. Nick – I like it when the experts give my competitors advice. 🙂

    • Benn Rosales

      May 1, 2011 at 11:33 am

      We recently met a realtor who is doing exactly this, claims to have at that time 177 individual pages that were feeding related net content by rss, none of which was hers- she was suggesting to realtors via panel of experts that this was the future of lead gen.

      • Paula Henry

        May 1, 2011 at 11:48 am

        Benn – With every conceivable search platform looking for eyeballs, this could be very well be the future of lead gen. However, I wonder, what happens when all those places the content is generated to, start charging for each submission; be it by rss feed or individual posts? Is the price worth it? I would rather have my own content with less eyeballs, than to think tomorrow I may be subject to the whim of a CEO who has decided they need more money.

        Just in the RE space, look at all the companies who woo'ed the masses with "free" and now charge, sometimes exorbitantly.

        • Benn Rosales

          May 1, 2011 at 11:54 am

          Well, you make a great point, but free or not, infringement isn't the future of anything. The future is absorbing as many eyes from free platforms to your own tiny island while you can, suck the freemarts to death, and abandon them as fast as they abandon you. It's funny to me the march to be anywhere that you don't control 100%.

  6. Tina Merritt

    May 3, 2011 at 6:39 am

    I too have sat in on "guru" presentations that tout FB and Twitter as "all a real estate agent needs". Right – and all you need is 1 pissed off client or competitor to take down both.

    AG rocks – thank you for getting my brain working each morning!

    • Lani Rosales

      May 3, 2011 at 10:08 am

      Tina, you're EXACTLY right! If it's not your sandbox, you're not in control and while natural conversation is healthy, you're right- add a dash of crazy pants and you've got a bad time.

  7. Missy Caulk

    May 3, 2011 at 7:42 am

    I know Facebook, isn't our platform, just like many of the places we are but it concerns be because on my FB business page, I post not just real estate but events around Ann Arbor.

    To stick to just real estate would be boring and not engaging.

    • Lani Rosales

      May 3, 2011 at 10:09 am

      Missy, my personal belief is that this isn't a Facebook vendetta, this is competitors crying foul with no consequence. This behavior is akin (on a very low level) to the jerk who kicks over your signs- we've all been there.

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