If you have a Facebook account, it’s highly likely that you think of it as your own, personal space on the Internet. You feel that you can say what you want, post pictures that catch your fancy, and put up links to whatever site of your choosing, and nobody can do anything about it because it is YOUR Facebook page. But who really owns your Facebook page? Seriously.
It’s certainly not the owner of the Facebook account, as Bill Tikos, founder of popular culture and design site The Cool Hunter, learned the hard way. The Facebook page for his business was removed by the social media giant for multiple instances of copyright infringement on Facebook, and judging by its tough stand on the matter, permanently.
Popular Facebook page shut down
Like many businesses, TheCoolHunter.net had been enjoying heavy traffic from its page on Facebook. Before it was shut down, Tikos’ Facebook page generated over 10,000 clicks daily to the site TheCoolHunter.net. The Facebook page itself was no pushover, with 788,000 fans, and 1,500 to 2,000 more fans being added daily. With such statistics, it doesn’t take an expert to see how much of a blow the removal of the Facebook page had been for Tikos, who was understandably livid about what happened.
In a statement in his site, Tikos said he only knew of two instances when they have been accused of copyright infringement on Facebook and were shut down, but he is strongly arguing that they were not infringements at all. Then he adds, “The other reason that could have caused the closure of our FB page is that we sometimes use images even when we do not know who has taken the picture.”
Copyright infringement on Facebook
There’s the rub. Check out the “Protecting Other People’s Rights” section of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and you will see that the first rule is, “You will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else’s rights or otherwise violates the law.” There’s also its Community Standards, which says under Intellectual Property, “Before sharing content on Facebook, please be sure you have the right to do so. We ask that you respect copyrights, trademarks, and other legal rights.”
Despite his protestations that he has “never intentionally broken any FB rules”, Tikos has essentially admitted that he did post pictures without knowing who shot them, which means he has actually committed copyright infringement on Facebook, and that is all Facebook needed to shut his page down for good. He failed to strictly follow all rules and guidelines on Facebook, and he paid the price.
Truth be told, The Cool Hunter is not the first page to be shut down for copyright infringement on Facebook. Neither will it be the last, as long as the rules covering copyright infringement on Facebook continue to be ignored.
My Advice: Strictly follow all rules and guidelines on Facebook
My point here is that you must always strictly follow all rules and guidelines on Facebook because, after all, it’s the social media giant who really owns your Facebook page. It is your responsibility to know and keep up with all the rules. Similarly, all other social media accounts. No matter how much you think your entitlements to your Facebook page are, it’s still Facebook’s house, and it’s their rules. Get caught committing copyright infringement on Facebook or violating any of its rules, and you’ll find yourself in the company of Tikos and The Cool Hunter, no ifs, no buts.
Your Fans Aren’t Yours
Seriously, your Facebook fans are not yours. It’s not like a mailing list where you hold the names and addresses of people. Facebook holds all their details and on Facebook you will forever be relying on Facebook to be nice to you and “let you” talk to your fans.
Which brings me to a final word of advice – drive as much traffic as you can to your own website and have people sign up to your mailing list. You own the mailing list, so you can reach your fans even if all the social media in the world shut your pages down for whatever reason.
Have you ever had to deal with your social media account getting limited, put on hold or shut down?