Eight weeks ago, our Facebook (FB) page (facebook.com/thecoolhunter) with all of its content and our 788,000 fans – resources we have created and nurtured meticulously over the past five years - was gone.
Not blocked or invisible, but completely gone. Disabled. “Page does not exist.” No explanation, flimsy warnings, no instructions on what to do next. None of our numerous attempts to rectify the situation and resurrect the page have worked.
And because we suspect there are other businesses in the same bind, we are writing this to seek help and encourage open conversation. This is not a minor problem. This is a huge issue and potentially fatal to businesses. We feel that FB must change its one-sided, secret policies and deal with us, and others like us, openly and fairly.
(Image found on Facebook without image credit.)
Important part of our business
Up till that day eight weeks ago, our FB fan base increased by about 1,500 to 2,500 per day, and the page generated more than 10,000 click-throughs to our site, TheCoolHunter.net (TCH), per day.
TCH is an almost eight-year-old design and pop-culture site. We have 2.1 million monthly site visits, a 186,000-strong newsletter subscriber list that reads like the Who-Is-Who of the design and marketing media. We have 247,000 Twitter and 100,000 Instagram followers.
But our Facebook presence has been a unique and extremely important part of our strategy. It is the water cooler of our global community. Losing our FB page is not just a minor hick-up. It is a serious loss of connection and interaction, and of a massive amount of content.
We post items on FB that may not make it to the actual blog, giving hundreds of artists and designers exposure, and thousands of fans something new to see. Our FB page provides the interaction, comments and ideas that help us keep our editorial fresh. It helps us generate ideas for our weekend playlists, gives us tips for our world tours on what to do and see in each city. Most important, our FB community keeps us on our toes, generates great ideas and feedback, and lets us know when we are on the right track.
Our FB community is truly global. At any time of day or night, we would get immediate reactions from hundreds of fans around the world on pretty much any question we would ask. It has become crucially important to us to stay connected in this way. It is a vital link to our community.
Since our page has been disabled, we have also receive hundreds of emails and messages daily from fans worrying where we have gone.
(Photo by Christopher Wilson)
What did we do?
In essence, we want to know this: What did we do? How do we rectify it? We have never intentionally broken any FB rules and we are willing to do whatever it takes to get our page back. But we do not have the answers and we do not know how to get them. We have tried everything in our power, and we are getting nowhere.
We had a momentary glimpse of hope when we asked for help via Twitter. The young and savvy Nina Mufleh @ninamufleh contacted us and said she could help reinstate it. And she did! We got our page – minus its content. In five days, we had more than 400,000 fans back. But then FB disabled it again. Again, no email, no warning - just gone. That’s when we started to get really annoyed.
Infringement of what?
When our page was initially disabled, we contacted FB. The only response we received was “This user was disabled for repeat IP infringement.” We have no idea what we were infringing on. Which image/s or posts, specifically, have caused this?
We know of only two infringements – two situations where FB closed our account , and we argue strongly that they were not infringements at all.
The problem with this is that you don’t know if what you are posting could irk FB.
But even if FB disagrees with the images we posted, are two images enough to kill our account with no chance of recourse?
The other reason that could have caused the closure of our FB page is that we sometimes use images even when we do not know who has taken the picture.
With FB, Tumblr, Pinterest and all the other image-sharing opportunities today, millions of people and organizations share images – theirs and someone else’s - freely every day. We WANT to give credit always, but in many cases we cannot find that information. On our “About Us” page and on our (now extinct) FB page we specifically state that if we have posted an image that belongs to you, we want to know, so that we can give you the appropriate credit.
Similar issues were discussed in a Huffington Post article here:
If they made any sense at all, they would give you us the contact info of the person who is complaining, so that we can resolve the issue with them. Right now, a completely anonymous and faceless Facebook tells you that a completely anonymous and potentially even false third party has complained about your page. Why can they not be open?
We have no idea why openness is such a foreign thing to them. And more important, we cannot believe that they think that everyone who clicks “share” on FB has checked that they personally have the right to post that image! That is a ridiculous idea. If people did that, FB would not be the business it is. It would be a tiny little official online group of insiders who share each others’ images and copy. Facebook is founded on FREE SHARING. They make their money based on that sharing.
The key point is that absolutely every one of us has posted images AND COPY whose author we do not know and whose authors’ permission we do not have. Facebook is built on this sharing. As are pretty much all other social media platforms. So, why do they attack a few and not all, if they are the police?
Bottom line: We need and want our Facebook account back. But we do not know how.
Do you? Do you have a back-up plan for if this happens to your business? Can you be sure it won’t happen to you? We think not.
It seems ridiculous to severely penalize a business for doing what most Facebook users do daily.
UPDATE: Media coverage: