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Facebook Removal of Fanpages. Community Pages.


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?

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

44 thoughts on “Facebook Removal of Fanpages. Community Pages.

  1. as an aside to the removal aspect, isn’t item #3 in the T&C a bit odd?

    3. Pages can only post content and information under the “everyone” setting.

    the current T&C is from Dec 21 yet it was only Nov 19 when they gave the ability to publish to fans in different locations & languages ( http://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-pages/new-publish-to-fans-based-on-location-and-language/180817924821 ) . To do this, you change the setting from “everyone” to “custom”.

    Maybe they forgot to update item #3? Would be a shame if they got rid of the functionality. I work with a retail fan page that has shops in NZ & AU so I use it all the time to direct to the country specific url or tie to a country specific campaign.

    1. There’s some info here http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=376904492130 on their location stuff. Not much though… 🙁

    1. I use allfacebook and insidefacebook and those leaderboards. I have had a list for ages which I use in class and just update it every so often. But last week I sat down for a solid 6 or so hours and scanned page after page, looking for Australian names. Lots of brands don’t have Australia URL or in the name so you’d have to know that Cotton On or whatever is Australian to do it that way.

      The smart thing would be to throw a few hundred bucks at it and have a dev strip Australian pages from the API, if there is such a field as “country” or “location” (I’m sure there is).
      But manually scanning let me gain a sense of fan vs brand. Big names vs “I love my mum” pages. Duplicates (there must be 25 “Your facebook foto is hot but you are not” pages and about 8 “I love Australia” pages). And I wouldn’t have caught the removals if I had used a dev to automate things.

      I guess I’m saying that it wasn’t a waste of time and I can justify it… honest! 😛

  2. Oh thanks for that, facebook seriously is one pain in the ass that they don’t bother to communicate their changes to their users and if they do it’s barely comprehensible.
    It’s also an accessibility issue (stating the obvious here) that people who aren’t so internet savvy can not easily figure out their privacy settings.
    Kowalski´s last blog ..Freedom of Speech

    This comment was originally posted onHoyden About Town

  3. Mer problematiskt är just separationen och att Facebook helt enkelt skapar en mycket vag struktur vilket gör att det är svårt att veta var olika gränsdragningar går. Det som inte ens är med i det hela är deras "Causes" som komplicerar allt ännu mer.

    This comment was originally posted onFriendFeed

  4. I can see why they’ve done it in one way – it’s going to make life a lot harder for cybersadists to put up grotesque fan pages that mock someone else’s pain e.g. the Constance Stop Yer Cryin’ page. They could also well give “Official” Pages more tools for controlling the content posted on their Walls, because they want those pages to monetise themselves as long as it’s on FB’s terms and they get a cut.

    It’s just that, as usual, they just switch without notice and users have to like it or lump it. The blogger I linked to in the post, Laurel Papworth, emphasised that this is why, if one is using FB and Twitter etc as part of a branding strategy, they should just be spokes on your hub rather than your primary web platform.

    This comment was originally posted onHoyden About Town

  5. So…if you have an already established fan page – will Facebook let you easily convert it to a Community page? Why would anyone want to rebuild and start from scratch if they already have a large number of fans and tons of content on their fan page?

    Facebook #FAIL.

  6. Hi Laurel,
    I think a couple of your points here aren’t entirely valid.

    Months ago Twitter included the “Verified Accounts” stamp on genuine Twitter Accounts. It’s actually really useful to be able to seperate Offical Accounts from general audience Fan Pages.

    I think your point about Admins for Brands potentially being more spammy that interest groups is flawed, because you overlook the simple fact that if a brand is spammy online it will lose followers: and, for a brand, that means customers. A brand can’t afford to be spammy.

    It’s unfair to say Admins of either group will Spam; but rather Brands have more of a reason to communicate a message with a larger group of people, while ‘interest’ pages are about discussion on the page with each other: which still happens.

    Stating that that passionate fans build better fan pages than the marketing team of some of the products simply confuses the issue. I think you’re more often to find an official Facebook page that simply has no updates rather than spammy updates due to big businesses being hesitant to enter social media due to legal implications.

    The deletion of “Solve Horseback Riding Fears”; was simply an oversight on the part of Facebook in that they couldn’t define the difference between a ‘General Fan Page’ and a ‘Business Page’. But I notice now, within a week of the original post, “Solve Horseback Riding Fears” has been restored, by simply changing the title to “Solve Horseback Riding Fears by Jane Savoie”.

    However, “What about this poor lady, running a small horseriding business?” os not the case at all. Her site is one of the spammiest sites I’ve seen, and it’s not a small horseriding business: http://www.janesavoie.com/free/

    “Band Fags” is also competely restored.

    I don’t like the way Facebook changes their T + Cs, but I think the things they change with Privacy (like this: http://tcrn.ch/bbDQjq) are far more concerning than the fact that the Admins for “I Wish Music Played During Epic Moments of My Life and Not Just in Movies” can’t post something to all members.

    Yet I note that not two hours ago, members are still posting to the “I Wish Music Played During Epic Moments of My Life and Not Just in Movies” wall. So in the case of pages like these, what is being lost that the ability to message many members? Fans can still interact with each other.

    I think, sure, don’t put all your eggs in one basket with Facebook, but if you’re going to use it, keep on top of the T+Cs. Anyone who is seriously running their business from Facebook needs to understand that they’re limited to Facebook’s rules.

    I feel it’s important to point out that while the Hub-and-spoke model would be useful in regards to driving traffic for a site; there are other network models which would be more successful in creating community, conversation and culture – which is what a lot of brands would prefer to create in these spaces.

    Facebook could be clearer about what Community Pages mean in regards to moderation; but I don’t think the shift is necessarily a bad thing; nor have I seen any cases of anyone truly negatively affected who cannot approach Facebook to rectify a miscategorised page.

    1. Thanks for the indepth comment – I agree with what you are saying.
      I guess the point of my post is more strategy than case by case problem/solution. You just don’t want to get into a fight to re-install a page with Facebook because they removed admin access (not the ability to post). I suspect those that lose admin access might be given the ability/warning to move site to community pages, if the technology allows it. But then again they might not.
      I hate companies that change the rules. I want to follow the rules but how can I trust Facebook not to change ’em again later?

    2. Rach. Re Jane Savoie’s FB fan page, it’s restoration involved a fair bit more than simply changing the title. That was the final clincher. But before that, she messaged all her fans and plead with them to email Facebook and beg them to restore Jane’s admin rights. I notice some of them even set up a discussion thread on Zuckerberg’s own FB page hoping banging on the chief’s door might bring some restitution!

      All in all, an interesting case study.

  7. I’m the FB admin for about 12 fan pages and i really just wish they would set it up and leave it alone, it’s the flux back and forth that is killing it.

    Basically FB is far from ‘company friendly’.

    At the moment we have a FB fan pge for each of the http://www.LiveChatConcepts.com sites eg. one for http://www.LiveF1Chat.com and then a seperate one for http://www.LiveAFLchat.com etc etc.

    I appreciate our particular situation might be a little unique but not being able to manage these on a macro level is driving us nuts.

    Also expect us to ‘be end user responsive’ without providing us detailed analytics tools is just joke. Personally i cant wait for both FB and Twitter to start offering commercial accounts as then we cna put the onus on them to provide better services – at the moment it’s all care and no responsibility with them.

    Cheers,
    Dean

    1. Dean. Why expect FB to stay locked to its original UI? Geez, they haven’t even started to properly monetize the asset value inherent in their huge user base yet; who can blame them for tweaking stuff all over the shop? Wouldn’t you do that as a business person? It makes me laugh when 1000s of users jack up every time FB changes something. Just check their official blog to see what I mean.

      Laurel’s spot on – for goodness sake don’t build all your hopes on 3rd party sites. As always, huge US players like FB and a certain search giant will keep at it until they own us… if we let them. And the public IS stupid enough.

      BTW, I hit “Like” on your LiveAFLchat page, so only 3 more fans and you can grab a vanity for it 😉

  8. it is annoying facebook gave me a message saying to change my group to the new community page to get better promotion, more people and it said it would be better for us. so we did. now its annoying people can no longer share posts they see on facebook to our group. most annoying for us. there is no way to change it back to a normal group. which is what we really want.

    any ideas on how to do so. facebook themselves dont seem to answer such questions well not directly from what i noticed.

  9. bother it is annoying facebook gave me a message saying to change my group to the new community page to get better promotion, more people and it said it would be better for us. so we did. now its annoying people can no longer share posts they see on facebook to our group. most annoying for us. there is no way to change it back to a normal group. which is what we really want.
    any ideas on how to do so. facebook themselves dont seem to answer such questions well not directly from what i noticed.

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