Facebook blocks Social Media Today, but We Have to Guess Why

JoshCanHelp
Josh Cunningham The Josh, Josh Can Help

Posted on March 30th 2010

 

If you're a fan of Social Media Today on Facebook, you probably noticed that we've been posting links more often than before. We've been trying to engage a bit better on this channel because of the great conversation it has been generating. Starting at the beginning of this month, we've been posting one hand-picked link in the morning and one in the evening. And we've gotten a great response.

But not from Facebook, apparently. Today, when trying to post a link in response to a post, we got the following message:

Block! You are engaging in behavior that may be considered annoying or abusive by other users.

You have been blocked from sharing web addresses (URLs) because you repeatedly misused this feature. This block will last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. When you are allowed to reuse this feature, please proceed with caution. Further misuse may result in your account being permanently disabled. For further information, please visit our FAQ page.

To understand this a little better, we did, in fact, visit the FAQ page:

Facebook has policies to stop behavior that other users may find annoying or abusive. Even if you did not have this intention, Facebook systems have determined that you were repeatedly using the same feature in a short period of time. Since you did not adhere to previous warnings, a temporary block was set on your account.

That's interesting. We've never received a warning before, either by email or on the screen. Also, fan pages are opt-in so if people find a practice annoying or abusive, they can leave the page and no harm done. We've been adding new fans like crazy which told us we were doing everything right. Guess not. Well, surely they'll explain what the problem was so we can correct our behavior.

Unfortunately, Facebook cannot provide any specifics on the rate limits that are enforced. The threshold at which you are warned is not a specific number, but rather determined by different factors, such as speed, time, and quantity.

That's helpful.

It appears that this block is only affecting the ability to post links on the page, not regular status messages. To test it out (and push our luck by being even more "annoying and abusive"), we posted what happened and got some great feedback by some of our fans:

It is, as always, our desire to provide great content and promote social media thought-leaders through white-hat, above-the-board methods. We try very hard not to abuse the tools and the community that we have access to so this block comes as a big surprise. We have great feedback on the page, only post links twice a day, and we're adding fans rapidly. So what gives?

I wanted to understand this a little better so I did a little research. Here's what I found:

So, we're blocked from posting links, won't know when the block is lifted, will get penalized even more if we try, and might get blocked in the future, though we're not sure how to avoid this except, of course, not using the page.

Anyone have a similar story?

JoshCanHelp

Josh Cunningham

The Josh, Josh Can Help

I help small businesses understand the web and build great things there. How can I help you?
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Comments

I got blocked by Facebook about a year ago. 

I was trying to post a link to an article on another web site, and apparently, there was some bug in my browser that resulted in it making multiple rapid-fire attempts. (I clicked it once, then saw it flash back and forth between my page and an error page.) 

Somewhere along the line, those attempts generated a warning email and then (because I didn't "respond" and stop "posting") my account was disabled. It's wierd...even my wife's page no longer acknowledged my existence on her "relationship" status. It was the Facebook equivalent of being "disappeared."

It took me close to a month of researching, emailing, and pleading my case before my account was restored. It all worked out, but I've been really nervous whenever I've posted links ever since.
I had a similar situation with inviting people via email to be a fan.  I had permission from the email list and found the situation odd as you have.  Perhaps as one person noted a complaint of spam was sent.
@Garrett: A month?! Wow, that seems excessive. We never got a warning, just a block.

@Rebecca: We're getting told that it might be user complaints but we're very careful about what we post so I'm not sure what to make of it.

 


You need to learn the tools you use for Social Media.

I admin several Fan Pages and know of other Groups & Fan Pages who lost the link share option because they do not use it properly.

Your page Admin tends drops the URL into the text section of the News Stream instead into the 'Link Share' area.

Ironic.

 


J: Actually, if you look a little closer, they all use the correct attach function. The one you're referring to (pointing here) was done because the other function, as we mentioned, was blocked. 

Just look 2 below the one you clicked ;)

Yet another reason businesses should think twice before investing too much time or resources in Facebook. Don't get me wrong--I think it's a great tool for businesses--in fact, it's the most successful of my company's social media outposts. But I hate how Facebook has all the control and no accountability to anyone. It's well past time for Facebook to develop a paid business account which comes with actual support and accountability. They'd make a fortune and businesses wouldn't have to be at their mercy.
While FB's policy is reasonable for personal profiles, I think it is rubbish to apply that policy for brand profiles. After all, if 100,000 people want to follow my brand, and if I want to post 1,000 links to be seen by them, what's up with FB on that? How can FB conclude that I am "engaging in behavior that may be considered annoying or abusive by other users"? If my fans feels "abusive" they can easily click on "remove from fans". Meaning of them not doing that is; they find it interesting/helpful to see my 1,000 links.

 If FB runs into resource constraints, when someone post excessively; that is a different matter all together. But, then again FB must clearly mention that and appologize for their limitations.

 My opinion is, a FB page owner cannot be labeled as a "Spammer" by any means. Cuz, every fan has the democratic right of removing themselves from fans, if they feel abusive. Spamming by fans on comments threads, is a different issue, and funny thing is FB doesn't have a fix for countering that as yet!

 


I will also save this information. I like having it all together without having to find it myself. Thank you
@Ray: We're not automating anything on that page. The links are hand-picked, the summary is written especially for the post, and we're not doing it more than twice a day.

@Maggie: I think you're highlighting an important point. Fan pages can represent many hours/days of work by a business or a group and it can be taken away in a second. I mean, it's their house, their rules but that logic only goes so far. Good idea on the paid accounts. Tiered based on fans? $0.01 per fan per year?

@Amitha: You hit the nail on the head. Why can't I start a page called "I post 100 social media links a day?" I can't imagine that this is a resource issue. I guess, in the end, people will put up with it because the benefits outweigh the risks/frustrations.... or they'll abandon the service.

Sorry this happened to you. I wish they would at minimum post policies on this type of matter.  For some reason they seem to like the "blue magic" that keeps us all on our toes.  

Fact is I'd love to see the stats and # of impressions you have delivered them thanks to the useful content including urls you have provided your fan base.  

If a fan complained then they can obviously easily "unfan"?  

Good luck!
"it's like trying to build a house on quicksand" Totally apt metaphor, Natalie. We're certainly doing something less concrete than that but we have the same feeling. Why people want to build walled gardens like that is something I may never understand.

Pam: we do support the Facebook cause quite a bit... we even did a webinar about how to use it. I think it can be used well but things like this are starting to make people think twice.


Hmm Facebook do seem to be rather autocratic in their actions and refuse to be held accountable. There is a big controversy in the UK surrounding Facebook's refusal to place a CEOP child safety button on their pages. They seem to adopt the stance that they know best and everyone else must just accept their rulings without debate or redress.

It's rather ironic that the current greatest Social Media tool on the planet seems to be entirely 'un- social' in its approach to interacting with its users...

@natalie  good idea on the FB Cause, turn it around
I run several fan pages that are populated by the RSS graffiti app on facebook. 

The pages populate continuously with hundreds of articles based on the topic that each fan page is about. (RSS feeds from different sites on each topic are aggregated into each fan page.) I've even performed a .com domain name forward to one of them. 

The concept is quite simple, yet useful. I love facebook for it. Seriously. 

This recent development does make me nervous, however.
facebook violates its own corporate charter of governance, as submitted to the Secretaries of State where facebook is incorporated.  Perhaps, if enough of us who have been negatively impacted by facebooks malicious actions were to submit firends of the court briefs.  And facebook were then indeed censored, maybe facebook would then adhere to its town hall stated style of governance, instead of being the proverbial Levithan, that it obviously so enjoys being.

It appears no one is exempt from this insane behavior by facebook.  I'm running ads and adding hundreds of fans a day who are heavily interacting with my page.  I comment on most of them and Like almost all of them, as well as many comments.  I think it is good business Interaction to engage and be invloved with these new customers.

 

Well I got a message today that I was abusing the Like feature with a very similar vauge message that it could last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

 

Seriously what garbage to pay for ads then I get called an abuser because I am interacting too much with my fans?