Avoid Facebook jail.

Last week I was placed in Facebook jail. I logged into my account and saw this message on the top of my page. Only I can see this message… my readers can’t.

I quickly learned that other bloggers received the same message on their page. The one thing we all had in common was that we all took part in a Paypal cash flash giveaway right before Christmas. Here is a link to the giveaway post. We did everything according to Facebook rules. We had the correct disclaimer {I actually had 2 disclaimers to make sure I was covered, one in the Rafflecopter and one in the post itself}. There were no mandatory entries. Nothing that was a violation of Facebooks rules.

The more research I did the more I learned about why this happened.

There were two separate reasons that Facebook gave for placing these limitations. Some of us had limitations placed because we were being accused of causing a negative experience for our readers and the others because we were being accused of buying likes and subscriptions.

At the time of the first message we didn’t yet know which issue we were being accused of.

As soon as I saw the restriction message on my page I appealed. I stated that I loved my Facebook page and that I would never do anything to jeopardize it. I promised to never do anything that is against the terms and to please let me know what rule I broke so that I make sure it never happens again. This is the response I got:

This is obviously a “stock” message where I am being accused of buying likes and subscriptions. This giveaway was definitely not a situation where we were buying anything.

I responded to this message with another email that explained that this accusation is false and I explained the giveaway. I again stated that I love my Facebook page and would take any and all necessary steps to make sure that i stay compliant with their rules. I checked my Facebook page again and it now states that my restriction is now permanent and I could no longer appeal.

What started as a 15 bloggers trying to do good and get someone some much needed last minute cash while building our pages turned into something not so great.

Here is what I have been able to figure out about the whole situation and how you can avoid this same problem:

What happened:

  • Facebook doesn’t have the manpower to police everything on Facebook. They depend on others to alert them to violations. Someone or some people took it upon themselves to report everyone in this one specific giveaway. They thought they were being sneaky and chose those two specific violations. They used the “negative experience” claim for the smaller blogs and the “buying likes and subscriptions” for the bigger ones. By smaller and bigger I only mean the number of Facebook likes they have. I bet they thought they were really being smart… because in their mind there is no way that someone could legibility have over 30,000 likes… they would have had to have been bought. Unfortunately this person or persons are lacking the knowledge to understand that working for a year straight on one goal can get you that and much more! I know from experience that this is more than possible.
  • We will never know who did this {unless they actually fess up, but that’s highly unlikely}. I have been provided some information that leads me to believe that they are fellow bloggers. This makes me extremely sad. We really are a group who can only benefit from working together. This has not hurt my desire to reach out and help other bloggers… but it has reminded me that not everyone feels the same way. For what it’s worth, it’s been said that the giveaway in question was extremely popular and other bloggers wanted to participate but there was no more room… I refuse to believe that they had anything to do with this.
  • This giveaway used Rafflecopter and a like page. This made it really easy for our readers to like all the pages. The like page had the like buttons right on one page for all the blogs so that our readers didn’t have to go to multiple Facebook pages and like them individually.
  • With this limitation on my Facebook page I can no longer have readers like my page from a button. They have to go to my page and hit the like button.

What you can do to avoid this issue and what changes I’ll be making:

  • I’ll be being careful about the giveaways I join. I really like the blogger that organized the giveaway in question. She worked hard and for free. She was not the issue. I also don’t think that the giveaway was the issue. We had done others like that before and they were completely compliant with the rules set by Facebook too… but having said that I will be avoiding cash giveaways {Paypal}. I don’t believe that Facebook found this giveaway and deemed it a violation, but when presented with it and the human behind the computer only having seconds to decide… I think the word “cash” looked bad and that was the reason for the permanent ban.
  • All giveaways that I set up will not be using like pages. If Facebook is an entry method it will have a link to the page to hit like.
  • I’ll continue to never make anything mandatory on my giveaways. All entries will be optional.
  • I’ll be focusing on other ways to drive traffic. I love Facebook and it provides me a whole lot of traffic… but I will be focusing on other ways like SEO and Pinterested, etc. If Facebook can arbitrarily do anything they want {it is their site and it is free, lol} then I need to remember not to put so many eggs in one basket.
  • I won’t dwell on this. I know that we were not buying likes. We were doing the same thing that lots of other bloggers and companies do. Facebook has the right to do whatever they want. I will continue to try to play by their rules while building other traffic sources.

I also want to note that one of the Bloggers did get her restriction turned to temporary. She has a 30 day restriction and then it will be removed. The rest of the bloggers are now permanently restricted.

Edited to add: Another blogger got a reply that her restriction will be removed after 30 days and that the reason for her restriction was the “like page”. The like page is where all of the like buttons are on one page. Prior to this letter I had already stated above that I would not be participating in like pages. I have seen the email but since it is not mine and I did not receive it directly from Facebook I will not be posting it.

1/1/13 Edit: I received a message from Facebook that my restriction will be lifted at the end of the month.

You are welcome to comment below.

35 Comments

  • WoW. WOW WOWOW>..SO are you telling me that there are some bloggers that are no longer allowed to be on FACEBOOK because of this? That is ridiculous. I understand that a rule has been broken. BUt what about a warning. Or a 30 day like the one blogger received. This would be my fight. Fight to get the ban removed. Who ever did rat you out…they will get theirs. No good can come from telling on someone for somethng so petty. A lot of Fans only use Facebook. They are only hurting your fans. Goodness. i am so sorry.

    • Thanks Jessica! Don’t worry though… no bloggers were actually banned! Some of us had restrictions places so we are still able to use Facebook… we just can’t use the like button ๐Ÿ™‚ We’ll all be okay… just have to keep up with Facebook and their changing rules!

  • Seems to me that if Facebook is too busy to research the problem, verify it’s accuracy, and provide real feedback, then they shouldn’t be able to punish people.

  • I’m sorry this happened to you. That really stinks ๐Ÿ™ Thanks for letting us know … I will have to think twice now about how I participate in giveaways. It is a shame how some people try to ruin things for others ๐Ÿ™

  • I’m so sorry to hear about this. It makes me sad that someone would have done that. I really have to believe that it wasn’t another blogger also, I have to try to see the good in people.

  • I think this stinks, but I’m actually kind of hopeful it will curb the giant lists of FB subscriptions and such I’ve been seeing on giveaways lately. Maybe cause some people to focus more on other social networks or something.

  • Karma is a GREAT tool that needs no tweaking or fine tuning. Karma will payback those who may have caused this ruckus. So sorry you were involved in this Heather.

    I am really keeping fingers crossed that 2013 brings us a new alternative to the Giant that is Facebook. I am getting Facebooked out!! Blahhhhhh to Facebook.

    Thanks again for sharing and hopefully this bad situation brings something positive along the way.

    Kevin ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Amen! There have been so very many of you who have helped me from day one! I have never felt like an outsider! It’s so wonderful to be kept in the loop and I know you guys who have way more experience than me, will figure out how to convince Facebook that nothing was ‘bought’….. You guys spend so much time helping others and I want you to know how thankful I am!!!

  • So sorry. ๐Ÿ™ Thank you for sharing your story. I have been having problems with FB as well. I’m in the process of changing blog urls because my original one is being blocked by FB. No one can post my blog url in any form anywhere on FB. I get a message saying it has been flagged as “spammy” or “abusive” when I try to. no real response from FB of course. I wonder if it is because I have hosted these like pages in the past…:-/

    • Thanks Rena! Sorry to hear about your FB woes! FB is such an awesome traffic source… it’s just not fun dealing with these issues! I have heard about the same thing that is happening to you… I think it would be near impossible to get a response from FB so you are totally doing the right thing setting up a new page.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I hate that this happened to you. And I hate to be the voice of dissent here – but I really don’t believe giveaways like that paypal one are indeed within Facebook’s TOS. This post explain’s the TOS extremely well, and an account manager from Facebook even emailed the author to verify that she did indeed interpret the terms correctly. Here is the post – http://www.bloggingbasics101.com/2011/07/running-a-successful-facebook-giveaway-or-contest/

    I know this is a very hotly debated subject. I know there are thousands and thousands of bloggers that allow likes as optional entries without a single consequence. But when I read that Facebook comment above, I decided to be extra safe. Again, I really hate that this had to happen ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™

    • Thanks for the link Annie… I do believe that based on FB’s prior comments on the subject we were working under their approved terms. Obviously now it’s not as clear. I think they have recently changed their thoughts and are are intending the rules to mean something different than before. The other known issue that has come up before is that one FB rep can interpret the rules completely different than another rep, so although I don’t doubt that was said in the linked article, I believe an official interpretation posted on FB would be the best conclusion to the issue.

      Of course non of this really helps us without something in plain English exactly what is okay and what is not {officially}… but that’s not how they operate. Being ambiguous helps them in these situations as they can then change their interpretation of the rules at anytime and thus still be within the term of use on their end.

      Having said this all… it is their site. They can do whatever they want. I completely understand that and accept it. As I’ve stated before, I love Facebook and the traffic I get from it. My readers love getting updates on my site via Facebook. I will gladly follow whatever guidelines they set… I just need to know what they are ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Wow, so sorry to hear about this. I had taken some time “off” during the holidays and am now just getting back to business and I see this. Thanks so much for filling us in. That was pretty bad of whoever did that. As one said, they will get theirs sooner or later. I am blessed to be a part of some awesome bloggers that support one another and not try to destroy them.

    • Kathryn… hope you had a nice break… I think that 99.9% of Bloggers are awesome people… there will always be that .01% that doesn’t play nice with others! As long as we surround ourselves with the nice ones we will be okay ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I wonder who wins in situations like this. The bloggers lose, the followers/fans lose and so does facebook with the negative comments. Thanks for reminding me to be careful who I play with on FB.

  • This is a really interesting thing. Definitely passing it along to blogger friends that do giveaways. Would HATE to see anyone affected life this. ๐Ÿ™

    Curiosity question… did you pay anything to enter the giveaway (i.e. toward the $50 that went to the winner)? Speaking just on “legal” terms (though I am not a lawyer, nor know a ton about FB TOS)… wouldn’t the amount you chose to giveaway be considered the payment for likes? I believe this would also apply to any “gift” that would be given away.

    Hope all of this gets resolved and your status changes from permanent to temporary!

    • Julie, I too hope this is the end of it for others ๐Ÿ™‚ As for the amount paid into the giveaway, i would interpret that unless there was an amount paid to each person that made a like then no it was not paid. However FB is the one who has the ultimate interpretation on this, lo!

  • I don’t understand why the one blogger got her page only restricted for 30 days and everyone else got permanently removed. I can’t believe another blogger would do that for their own benefit. That’s just not right. We are all in this together.

    • Mary, I absolutely agree… we are all in this together! Half the fun of blogging is our friendships with with other bloggers. I guess not everyone realizes that though. The good news is that my restriction was lifted after 30 days and I believe that all of the other ones were lifted too.

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  • When something becomes to big for its own britches whether it is FB or people and they begin to exert unanswerable power over others, we must begin to rethink our position about how we will deal with them. Unfortunately, FB is so giant and integrated into the “fabric of our lives” it has the power to make you “guilty” without a way to prove your innocence. On top of this it is a faceless entity you have been unable to deal with on a personal basis. I commend you for your perseverance trying to solve this problem. My husband, who is new to the internet and FB keeps getting messages saying he is asking too many people to be his friend and having his account in suspension. He doesn’t understand where these other requests are coming from and I have to go in and delete these other people he doesn’t know. FB changes their rules about as often as some people change their sheets so it is no wonder you can become caught up in one of their nets. Congrats on the lifting of your restrictions!!

  • This sort of thing makes me nervous – it’s like SEO, you do everythign right and according to the rules and then they change the rules…very, very annoying. If it becomes a ” thing” where Rafflecopter or similar apps get banned, about 50% of Facebok is just going to be totally screwed!

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