While I trawled manually through around 10,000 Facebook fanpages to finish off the list (still not finished) of Australia’s Top Facebook Pages, I kept coming across this sort of complaint – “I’m trying to get a message to you guys – they’ve shut us down!” on the I Wish Music Played During Epic Moments of My Life and Not Just in Movies, 2 million 300 thousand fans.

I'm trying to get a message to you guys - they've shut us down!

Initially I ignored it and kept trawling for Australian fan pages but again it popped up…

So I got blocked from posting on my wall

Nearly 4 million fans. And so it went on.

Why remove the fanpages?

First, the fans who have lost pages have no real understanding of why access to their page admin has been removed. But it’s cos of the new terms and conditions:

Special Provisions Applicable to Pages

  1. Pages are special profiles that may only be used to promote a business or other commercial, political, or charitable organization or endeavor (including non-profit organizations, political campaigns, bands, and celebrities).
  2. You may only administer a Facebook Page if you are an authorized representative of the subject of the Page.
  3. Pages can only post content and information under the “everyone” setting.
  4. When you publish content or information to your Page we have no obligation to distribute your content or information to users.
  5. If you use a Fan Box widget off of our site to promote your Page, others will be able to copy and place the widget elsewhere.
  6. You may not place a Fan Box widget in an advertisement.
  7. If you collect user information on your Page, Section 9 of this Statement also applies to you.
  8. If you display advertising on your Page, Section 11 of this Statement also applies to you.
  9. You may not establish terms beyond those set forth in this Statement to govern the posting of content by users on a Page you administer, except you may disclose they types of content you will remove from your Page and grounds for which you may ban a user from accessing the Page.
  10. You will restrict access to your Page in order to comply with all applicable laws.  For example, if your Page includes content not suitable for minors, you will use your Page to block minors from accessing your Page.

Fan pages are no longer fan pages they are Brand pages. And only the official owners of the brand can use those pages. Which is somewhat ironical since passionate committed fans do a better job of building fan pages than some intern in the marketing department halfheartedly spamming out special offers.

Trust and the hub-and-spoke approach

I teach a hub and spoke approach to social media connectivity – create a hub that YOU control, use the Facebook/Twitters/Youtubes to distribute to spokes. If you lose one along the way because they changed the rules, you haven’t lost everything. The term hub and spoke went out of vogue a few years ago but it still works for me – the spokes drive the hub wheel. If you want a really obvious example – even if Twitter shuts down, Facebook removes my account, and Foursquare/Flickr/YouTube and so on disown me, people can still find me on this blog. It would take a court order (and I have back ups anyway) for people to never find me again. One of the reasons I moved off Blogger (Google hosting) onto my own ISP hosted site, by the way, was for that very reason.

What about this poor lady, running a small horseriding business?

This isn’t a one-off.

Ikea ran a competition to have people ‘tag’ Ikea goods in photos with their own name. If they were first, they won that item. IMMEDIATELY Facebook changed the terms and conditions – Westfield ran something similar and had to get special permisssion. You can’t trust a spoke. But they are bloody good for distribution…

This is not to be confused with inappropriate deletions due to community behavioural guidelines e.g. slurs on minority groups – Gay author has Band Fags page removed

Fanpage vs community vs brand vs groups

I don’t want Facebook policing people, but I understand why they must, and I understand why it’s bloody hard to manage 400 million people creating pages left right and centre. From AllFacebook.com

Want to set up a Facebook Page for “Pillow Fighting” or “Tatoos”? Previously, Facebook would simply shut down the Page or remove publishing permissions from the Page administrator. Now Facebook is suggesting that users create a “Community Page” when the page isn’t for a company, brand, or public figure, as well as when they are not an official spokesperson for that organization.

Prior to the release of “Community Pages”, Facebook had to constantly monitor Pages that were not created on behalf of official organizations. It became a game for many individuals to come up with Pages that would instantly attract millions of users, however organizations were getting frustrated when a Facebook user created a brand page on behalf of them.

In such cases, Facebook has removed administrator privileges from the user and given it to the brands. However, when the Page wasn’t for brands, some of the topics became instantly popular. For example, the “I ? SLEEP” Page now has over 5 million fans. Facebook doesn’t want administrators using these pages as a tool for spamming tools however so what they’ve decided to do is classify popular generic pages as “Community Pages”.

Admins that are “Fans” will “spam”? But Admins that are “Brand” won’t? But anyway removing established fanpages to make way for community pages instead of migrating them across was crappy thinking. No?

Anyway now you know, Fan pages are now Brand pages and can only be run officially. The new Fan page is Community page. Rules change all the time. Don’t build your network hub on Facebook – use it as a spoke.

I. Have. Spoken. Outspoken Media has spoken.  What say you?