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.