Wasn’t Planning on That
After quarterly appeals to every page’s takedown notification, I noticed today that the pages have all been deleted. I had sent appeals regularly in the hopes of getting a response from someone. Today I went to post a share to my active page and I noticed a number of taken down pages missing from the list. I then checked the list and sure enough, all the taken down pages were gone. No notification – could have happened anytime in the last 35 days or so since I last remember checking.
Since the appeals were still there, I added one more entry to each one:
“I just saw that Facebook has deleted my page. Well, my disappointment is now complete. I do not regret posting publicly my story and I will be adding this sad chapter as well – as a lesson to every small business owner out there that they can lose their online presence with no recourse and no response from support.”
Time to move on, and to help others understand that their business might be victim to the whims of Facebook and they could lose everything at the drop of a hat.
Original Post Follows
On June 1, I was preparing for a nice, overdue, and brief vacation where I hoped to be disconnected from the internet. I got on my Facebook pages to do a few quick updates before leaving. I did not think that I was about to learn a brand new word; unpublished.
I connected with my web browser like I always do and when I opened the Facebook page I was prompted with an alert that my account may have been compromised. I was presented with a few pages of information to confirm that the last usage of my account was indeed by my actions and not some hacker. There were no problems, and nothing looked strange, so I indicated there were no problems and as a precaution, changed my password.
I then went to the page I wanted to update and found this nasty bit of business right away.
I found Facebook’s “Pages Term(s)” and did a quick scan not expecting to find anything, and I didn’t, so I proceeded with an appeal. This page in particular is one that I started for my first business in 2012. I post mostly articles from other sites, blog posts, and I use the Facebook page tools to promote my business’ products and services. There’s no way there were any violations – it just didn’t make sense.
I was more than a bit annoyed but I was eager to get the work done and move on so I went to one of my other pages.
Yep. That’s when I started checking the other pages I have. Every one of them, unpublished. I became VERY suspicious at this point. Notice the language in the notification: “This happened because the Page doesn’t follow one or more…” It’s not that a page is a problem, they unpublished ALL my pages. They even unpublished a page I don’t even own. I am an admin on my Rotary club’s page, which was also unpublished with the exact same message.
Here’s a list of them, the websites they link to, and what they’re about:
Stewart and Son Computer Services, LLC – The aforementioned 5 year page.
Personal Retreat Program – This page promotes my book “Personal Retreat”. I link to blog posts and post articles from other websites.
Hooch Blog – This is a page that celebrates cocktails, shares funny stories, recipes and of course is set for 18+
Using FB for Business Class – This is (and probably won’t still be) a page that promotes a class I do for small businesses on how they can promote themselves on Facebook effectively.
Trader Geek – I use this one to promote my website on stock trading strategies, blog on my progress, and share a few trading tips that I’ve found.
Wade Stewart – The page that supports this blog of course.
People’s Funding – A new page that I’ve posted NOTHING on except a link to the website. This was going to become a clearinghouse for folks who wanted to contribute to NGO’s in the absence of Federal funding.
Fine Spirits Blog – This page wasn’t even published yet. It was not public on Facebook. It had no content. I was holding onto it for another blog about fine spirits like whiskey, scotch, and cognac, among others. It was just a placeholder so I could use the name later since I already owned the domain.
What’s the Damage?
No damage might immediately spring to mind when you consider my page being unpublished. It’s just a Facebook page right? It’s not like people are trying to find your business on Facebook… Or interested in what you have to say… Or look forward to your updates… Well maybe there’s some damage. Let’s break that down:
I’m going to use some terms from business networking to help illustrate the damage. There’s an acronym called VCP. It stands for Visibility, Credibility, Profitability. To profit from networking, you need to be visible, and you need to be credible. So the immediate issue here is Visibility. My businesses are no longer visible, and I immediately start losing social media sharing potential.
For about a week, I’d say we’re in the short-term category of damage. Remember, it’s the information age and everything happens pretty fast. Our attention spans are short and our memories are even shorter. Bringing to mind a meme from just a few weeks ago can seem like ages. So the next consequence is Credibility. If my customers and fans notice that I’m gone, they’re wondering where I went, and maybe more importantly “What did they do wrong?” Credibility is now starting to suffer.
In a few days, I’ll be in this area. Now I will admit to you now that Facebook is not immensely profitable for me in terms of dollars. However, it is profitable to me in terms of goodwill, communication, and social media equity. We’re losing connections to our clients, referrers, and partners. Having all my pages unpublished has impacted me in pretty huge ways.
How Does It Work?
Facebook has portrayed this platform as a free marketplace. Access to your audience has 50% reliance on quality content and an engaged audience. I know this because I’ve developed a system that can get the most out of that 50% and I’ve been doing it long enough that I can deduce that the rest is behind the curtain.
The other 50% is closely guarded secret of algorithms and other actions that only Facebook knows. Greater positioning is gained by money spent on advertising in large part, but there’s still a secretive portion we don’t know (and frankly probably shouldn’t since there are those who would game the system to save money on ads).
Overarching this all, is an automated cancellation system of profiles, groups, and unpublished pages. Since this all happened suddenly and possibly linked with some kind of security issue (that doesn’t appear to have existed), one can deduce this was something automatic.
Is it Fair?
Facebook is not a free market platform. This system has no due process. No warnings, no opportunity to answer a complaint, just cessation of services. If the system kicked in because of a complaint, I was not notified. If it was from some questionable content, it wasn’t flagged. I have seen Facebook act pretty quickly and specifically about content and accounts created in violation of the terms, so to have a page unpublished indicates there are some serious flaws.
Even the notifications are vague, stating a violation of some rule in a word salad of information (and in my case didn’t even apply, since no rules were broken). Since checking out the terms in more detail I’m even more convinced that the rationale given for these pages being unpublished has little to do with the wording of the violation, but that it is merely a placeholder for something that has no definition.
Where to go from Here?
I’m obviously a bit passionate about this. If you know me, you’ll become aware of a deep desire for fairness and justice and I’ll get testy when I’m mistreated. So I’ll take a moment to dispassionately review some facts:
- Facebook provides a platform to market your business and can remove you from that platform for no reason.
- Facebook provides an appeal system that is at best not timely, and at worst doesn’t work.
- Delays in resolving “your page has been unpublished” issues = Lost Profit
- A business invests time and money to reliably create revenue, build equity, or promote the business.
The conclusion is that Facebook is not a reliable platform to invest in for business. Some have already come to this conclusion:
- 5 Reasons Why Facebook is Bad For Small Businesses
- The Good and the Bad of Facebook for Business
- Facebook’s newest news feed: good for friends, bad for publishers
- 3 Reasons Facebook is BAD for Business
Even if my Facebook pages are restored, I’ve been given time to learn my lesson. If you are going to put your business in the hands of someone else, you need to know the conditions under which they can cut off your services. The bigger they are, the less likely they’re going to care about giving you due consideration. Especially if what they’re giving you is free.
Great question. We need to address these by the problems that Facebook pages solves.
Finding Your Business
Remember that when people are looking for things they still are doing web search. Also remember when you search for something on Facebook, it also searches the web. Your fall back for being found is to go back to the tried and true Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing. You also can put whatever you want on your web page and not be limited by Facebook content requirements
Engaging with People
You used to engage with your audience by sending them small pieces of information with maybe a linked article or picture.
Now you could use Emarketing to send them emails and they can respond to you personally. This is a lot more personalized, direct, and more traceable. You also have more flexibility in what you can share, no longer limited by Facebook’s requirements for pictures, video and other forms of media.
Gettin’ off the Juice
Facebook pages made things very easy, and gave you a ready audience. Even still, that audience was hard to reach with Facebook getting in the way all the time with their systems and algorithms.
Easy isn’t always better, cheap doesn’t always cost less, and quick doesn’t always mean more time off.
PS: Here’s the link to my public Facebook Business post asking for help (and being ignored of course):