|Update: 07/27/2010: Megan Enloe’s comment below reports that this problem has been fixed on the Facebook side. She also makes some good points that companies should think about for risk mitigation.|
I always recommend that companies consider the risks associated with building their entire social media strategies on rented land. The problem with relying so heavily on third party platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter is that your company’s online reputation is at the whim of their terms of service (TOS)—terms that free platform services reserve the right to change at any moment!
Recently, I’ve observed two incidents that have highlighted a problem that affects every company who uses a Facebook Fan Page. The problem manifests itself in a conflict that occurs between Facebook’s TOS and a known “bug.”
Here’s the problem.
1) Section 4 of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities stipulate that:
- You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.
- You will not create more than one personal profile.
2) The Facebook Pages Terms clearly spell out:
- You may only administer a Facebook Page if you are an authorized representative of the subject of the Page.
3) Facebook’s Bugs and Known Issues pages state that the original admin of a page cannot be removed.
These three issues conspire to create not only a conundrum for corporate entities that outlive the duration of the relationship with the page’s creator, but for the page creators themselves. Any relationship change, such in employment status or expired contract causes two outcomes instantaneously:
- A corporate risk that a non-corporate sanctioned user still has admin privileges.
- A violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service for the original creator.
So, what can your company to do? The options aren’t pretty.
|Do Nothing||Keep the URL, all the content that is on the page, and all of the “fans” that have been collected throughout the page’s tenure.||Risk: non-corporate sanctioned user still has admin privileges
Original admin is now in violation of the Facebook Pages Terms.
|Remove the page and create a new one.||Admin privileges now secured.||Lose the Facebook URL, all the content that is on the page, and all of the “fans” that have been collected throughout the page’s tenure.
Risk: Temporarily solves the problem, until there is a status change with the new admin.
|Create a “dummy Facebook user” that can stay with the corporation.||Admin privileges are secured beyond the duration of the relationship between the corporation and the employee||Risk: Company is in violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service, violating either the “false information” rule or the “more than one profile” rule.|
I have no idea how easy or hard it is for Facebook to fix the “bug,” but if the original page creators were allowed to transfer admin responsibility completely, this problem becomes moot. Until then, however, every company that uses a Facebook Page will eventually be forced to either violate Facebook’s Terms of Service or accept the risk of a non-corporate-controlled person having a key to the family jewels.