facebook rules: blocking spam & shutting down pages

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yesterday on the build a little biz facebook page we had a lot of discussion about facebook pages getting shut down or blocked from posting... i thought i would compile everything we have figured out so far in one handy spot. i will update this post as i know and learn more! 

silent tagging & marching:

i can confirm 100% that facebook is blocking pages from doing silent tagging/silent marching.

to find out more about what silent tagging and marching is, please read this post from support a whap. basically these are tagging games where you like all of the pages that have tagged themselves in the comments, which you can quickly do by hovering over their name and clicking like.

when you get blocked by facebook you get a pop up that tells you you are being spammy, forces you to check a box agreeing that you understand facebook terms & conditions and then blocks you for 15 days from posting on pages. it blocks you from posting as your personal profile as well as your biz profile (but you can still post on your own pages) so it makes interacting on facebook difficult!

it seems to boil down to the amount, repetition & timing of your posts - this post explains why facebook decides you are being spammy.

so liking a heap of pages in a row (as you do with silent tagging) is a flag to facebook. 

getting blocked for other reasons:

i discovered the hard way that posting a similar comment on a number of pages repeatedly will also get you blocked. i was letting biz pages know they had been featured in the recent build a little biz post on newsletters and posted to 6 pages in a row a genuine thank you comment before i got blocked for being spammy. 

i have also heard of other situations where people have been blocked for tagging multiple pages in short succession, for embedding images repeatedly in a single comment thread and for doing a similar comment on a number or posts on their page wall. i cannot find any specific information from facebook about what will get you blocked but it seems to boil down to this:

if you are tagging/commenting/posting/sharing/embedding in quick succession, or in a repetitive fashion, then facebook might decide you are spammy.  remember: this is an algorithm that determines spammy posting. facebook has an idea of what 'normal behaviour by real people' is, and anything outside of that gets flagged as spam. 

of course posting, tagging etc. is completely acceptable on facebook. just be slow and steady and 'real' about it - spreading out your tags/posts, writing original comments (not cut & paste) and not being repetitive.

one more note about spam/tagging:

facebook statement of rights & responsibilities include these statements:

  • You will not send or otherwise post unauthorized commercial communications (such as spam) on Facebook.

this is pretty vague, but it is what you are agreeing to. if facebook is determining spam by repetition, timing, quantity, etc. than that is what we need to consider when taking action on facebook!

  • You will not tag users or send email invitations to non-users without their consent.

so here is an idea - ask yourself if the person you are tagging would want you to tag them. if the answer is no, or if you would be too uncomfortable asking, then that might be an indication that tagging them is spam-ish.

promotions: contests, competitions & giveaways

facebook also appears to be cracking down on people who are running promos that are against the rules, which is not that surprising as we have known about these rules for a while now.

a promo involves a PRIZE of monetary value and a WINNER by chance or skill.

if you hold a promo on facebook you must use a 3rd party app. you can hold a promo off of facebook (on your blog, or email or whatever) and communicate about it on fb but be absolutely sure that whatever promo you hold does not require anybody to take any action on faceook. no tagging, liking, commenting, sharing, posting, messaging etc. as a way of being involved in the promo. it is not allowed, and will get your page shut down. 

here is my post explaining facebook rules (it is well worth a read) and in it you will find links to all of facebooks rules and guidelines - i would advise reading through them yourself so you are aware of what they say.

auctions:

i have not been able to confirm nor find any concrete information about facebook shutting down or blocking pages due to auctions. facebook does not have guidelines for people SELLING GOODS on facebook. you are allowed to sell stuff on your page. (you should be aware of the guidelines that are there just to be sure, for example if you are advertising a sale.)  

as far as i can tell a true auction which results in the highest bidder making a purchase should be allowed. (if an auction is for charity be sure you follow the rules of your state/country as facebook will not be happy if you break legal, local rules.)

having said that, i have seen many pages run auctions that are really just giveaways in disguise - where the item is purchased for a stupidly small amount of money or bought using some sort of play money like 'gift bucks' of the like that the person has won/earned. i would not be surprised if facebook shut pages down for these types of 'auctions' - they are in my mind still a promotion (with a winner & prize).

it is also possible that a page would be be shut down if an auction involves requiring people to like/tag/post etc. as that looks a bit like a promo which is against the rules. and if people are suddenly tagging/liking/commenting etc in that repeated unusual pattern that i mentioned above then it would possibly get you blocked for spamming/

so bottom line about auctions is that i am hoping that facebook is not shutting pages down for holding them, as they have not made it clear that is is an unacceptable practice. if i hear or find anything concrete about auctions i will update this post and share any information i find.

in the mean time - if you are having an auction (or any kind of sale for that matter) make sure you are truly selling your goods, don't use words like winner and prize, and don't ask people to do things like tag/like/comment that could be construed as spammy or in violoation of promotion rules.

last note:

this is a very good reminder of a few things:

you have no ownership of your little piece of facebook real estate - you are merely a squatter at the mercy of facebook's ever changing rules, lack of transparency and general glitchiness. use facebook to genuinely interact with people, set up your own site to run your business.

all of this tagging business actually is kind of spam-ish. and gaining likers that way isn't really going to help your business. focus on your true fans people, and genuinely interacting with them.

  • we should be aware of how our actions as page owners are percieved.

try not to be spam-ish when selling your thing

5 ways to not be spam-ish on your facebook page

5 ways to not be spam-ish on other facebook pages

i hope this info helps everyone with a biz page on facebook. be sure to sign up for the toolbox newsletter as i share posts about facebook there all the time - that way you won't miss anything important if it doesn't show up in your facebook newsfeed. =)