Facebook – Animal advocates are up in arms today over a change in Facebook spam policies that has left hundreds of animal rights Pages on the social networking site unable to post or communicate with other Pages for 15 days.
Over the past several weeks, Personality and Fan Pages created by Facebook animal advocates looking to connect and interact with other animal lovers have seen a wave of sanctions being placed on their Pages for posting what Facebook is calling “spam and irrelevant content.”
Hundreds of Pages were served notice via an automated popup from Facebook Administration entitled “Postings to Pages Temporarily Disabled” which reads:
We’ve noticed that your account has been posting spam and irrelevant content on Facebook Pages. Because of this, your ability to post on Page walls has been suspended for 15 days.
If you continue to post spam after this block has been lifted, your account could be permanently disabled.
Recipients of this messages were then forced to agree to a statement that they understood that “posting spam is prohibited and against Facebook Community Standards” before being able to continue.
Pages affected by this unprecedented crackdown by Facebook administration are claiming that not only is the move to single them out putting the lives of numerous animals in shelters at risk, but has come to them as a complete and unexpected surprise.
Helen Matson, the owner of an animal advocacy Facebook Page explained that “I was absolutely and totally shocked, as right off the bat a few of [the Pages affected] were Pages that rarely share and are not as active as many others.”
Matson continued that “We had problems about 5 weeks ago with people being blocked from leaving comments, but had never seen anything like a 15 day suspension so I was totally caught by surprise.”
One of the main issues that Facebook Page owners are most concerned about is their ability to advocate and network on behalf of sick and abandoned animals, leaving them feeling as though their ability to help has been diminished by the Facebook bans.
Jackie Gallagher, owner of the Help Save Zen animal advocacy Page contended that “Some Pages are specifically set up to help bring awareness to the community about animal abuse and homes needed for fosters or rescues and now they can’t get the word out.”
Gallagher added that “We focus primarily on fund raising to help families with animals in need of urgent care, even my own two dogs suffering from cancer.”
Although there have been reports by sites such as Addicting Info that claim political Facebook Pages are being hit with the same level of scrutiny that animal advocacy Pages have received, Helen Matson says the impact is still extremely palpable in the animal advocacy world.
The community is confused and hurt, and some are very angry. Many of us are trying to pull together to find answers. Hundreds of us are now using a group page to keep in touch until things somehow are resolved one way or the another. The people who are heavily involved in animal rescue are very worried. I feel I can speak for almost any of the Page owners by saying we are totally confused and feel we have done nothing wrong, nothing that violated the terms of usage or guidelines for these Pages.
Liza Hitt, a member of the coalition of affected animal advocacy Facebook Pages investigated and tested the sensitivity of the Facebook spam filters on a decoy Page specifically designed to gauge the situation, and was able to single handedly force the Page into a 15 day ban.
“I made two test Pages,” said Liza Hitt “I used the accounts of two of my family members, who do not really use Facebook and I created each Page identically. I then posted the same thing on the status sections of each Page then I posted on my personal Pages and Pages that I knew were inactive.
“On one of the Pages I began to mark everything as spam and I would wait 10 minutes, check and then mark as spam again. After one hour had passed I marked the Page itself as spam 10 times and 15 minutes later I went to sign into account with the flagged Page and boom, I was banned.
“The other Page is still perfectly fine. The Page being marked as spam suffered the 15 day ban and it only takes one person banning you a lot to shut down your Page” finished Hitt.
Although a request went out to Facebook on Sunday for comment on the situation, by print time on Tuesday the request had not been responded to.
The silence on the issue by Facebook Administration has caused many in animal advocacy circles to question the fairness of the spam labelling and fairness of Facebook policy in general, prompting a call within the ranks to move on to greener pastures.
“I think Facebook needs to lift the bans” said Jackie Gallagher, “and change the rules on what they feel is irrelevant or spammy content. If this is a problem on their end they need to make us aware that something is being done. If it is a case of Facebook trying to “weed out” all the animal Pages, then just change the rules, and stop messing around with us, so we can pack our stuff and move elsewhere.”
Subscribers always welcome — button at the top.
Commenting at the bottom — make yourself heard.
Contact Jeromie via email at [email protected]
You can also find Jeromie on Facebook or you can stalk him on Twitter
Interested in Wildlife News? Check out Doug Sabiston the National Wildlife Headlines Examiner