Unofficial Facebook Page Owners Can Appeal Community Page Classification

Facebook intends its Pages product to serve as public-facing profiles for brands, celebrities and other official entities. But because anyone has been able to create Pages in the past few years, many thousands of Pages have been created by fans themselves, not official representatives. Meanwhile, many more Pages have been created by Facebook users about any number of other topics.

The company recently tried to reconcile how Pages are being used through the introduction of Community Pages earlier this month. Now, some unofficial Page owners are finding their Pages recategorized as Community Pages — meaning they lose control.

Unless, however, unofficial Page owners appeal to Facebook to have their pages classified as official — but more on that process in a moment.

First, here’s a closer look at what’s happening.

Facebook wants Community Pages to be for causes, topics and ideas. Official Pages are meant to be for: local businesses; brands, products, or other organizations; and, Artists, bands, and or other public figure, like politicians. Note, a similar product, Groups, is intended to be for more private conversations, created and run by users, and focused on things like hobbies and professional interests.

Pages, whether official or unofficial, have been patterned after Facebook personal profile interfaces; they include features like customizable tabs, and a publisher tool so Page owners can send messages to their fans.

Community Pages, though, lack owners because they are intended to be about things that nobody owns. As a result, there is no central way to control a Community Page, and the publisher tool doesn’t send messages to users’ news feeds. Instead, activity from the Page will only show in the feeds in the form of one-line stories if you “like” the page, or if you comment on it, or if you “like” other comments on it. Basically, they provide what any developer can add to any other site on the web using Facebook’s new social plugins. Other features of Community Pages

In other words, unofficial Page owners lose control and their Page loses some valuable features. This has some owners and observers understandably frustrated (see here, here and here).

However, Facebook has consistently folded unofficial Pages into Official Pages over the years. This is why you’ll sometimes see sudden spikes in the number of new fans for slow-growing official Pages in our PageData tracking service. We’ve explored this issue in great detail before, including this look at the options available for organizations wanting to claim unofficial Pages.

The bigger point is that Facebook has consistently described Pages as being intended for businesses and other official organizations since the product launched in 2007. Community Pages are designed to accommodate the fact that many people have used Pages to create Internet memes, rally support for Causes, and other conceptual uses. Any move that hurts unofficial Page owners now shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the historical context.

But not all is lost for unofficial Page owners who have recently been notified that their Page is getting the Community designation. Facebook tells us that the process of classifying unofficial Pages as Official or Community is done via an algorithm, rather than via manual categorization. Algorithms aren’t necessarily perfect. To address automatically mistaken cases of Page identity, the company has an appeals process set up within its Help section. You can find it here.

Titled “Request for Page Category Review,” the form says that “if you think your Page has been miscategorized, we’ll be happy to review the change. Please note that the Page itself has not changed: it’s still on Facebook and fans can still search for it as always.” Then, owners are asked to send: Page name, URL, their relation to the Page, and the category of Page (retail, coffee shop, musician, etc.) and how the categorization relates to the rightful owner.

Pages aren’t as free-wheeling a product as it used to be. But the point of an Official Page isn’t new, Facebook has been clear about the product’s purpose from the start, and the ownership issues are basically what they were before the launch of Community Pages. If you’re a Page owner with a grievance, you at least have a way of getting it addressed.

Finally, if you’re a Page owner and you’d like to learn more about how to optimize your Page performance as the Facebook ecosystem becomes more sophisticated, you may be interested in the Facebook Marketing Bible, the comprehensive guide to marketing your brand, product, or company on Facebook.

[Top image via Pixelrage.]

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23 Responses to “Unofficial Facebook Page Owners Can Appeal Community Page Classification”

  1. Savannah Brentnall says:

    We’re having the reverse problem: Facebook is erroneously linking to a community page instead of our official page (launched last Monday). The result is that while our official page has 1700 fans, the community page has 81k.

    This is a page for a well-known artist, not a “cause, topic or idea.” We’ve contacted facebook several times but have only been told that they’ve heard this complain from other artists and hope to have a fix some time in the future.

    Apparently, there’s no way to claim a community page, even if it violates copyrights & trademarks. Way to go, facebook.

  2. Benjamin Chambers says:

    Anyone reading your post would think that Facebook was just doing the reasonable thing. That may be so — I don’t think so, myself — but it’s typical of Facebook that the move was poorly thought-out and executed, and (typically) it happened without any thought for or notice to the many legitimate businesses and organizations that use Pages.

    You don’t mention the fact that users were conned into “linking” to pages (many of them computer-generated and bogus) from terms ripped from their profiles. This was done with a pop-up dialogue box that (again, typically for Facebook) failed to explain what the change was about, and threatened anyone who didn’t link to *something* in each section of their profiles with erasure of all information in that section. Because of this, I accidentally created a Community Page for my business that I have no interest in having or managing — and don’t want others finding or managing, either.

    You failed to mention the new “Community Pages” for random terms pulled from individuals’ profiles and status updates — do we really need a page for the word “depends”?

    Sure, Facebook is free – what am I complaining about? Just that it continues to disregard the needs and desires of its users — and we’re not talking fiddling with the News Feed here. We’re talking about its unethical, dishonest approach to personal privacy, where it assumes opt-in rather than opt-out, and then crows that because people who don’t understand the options or the implications don’t opt-out, that notions of privacy have fundamentally changed …

    I’d delete my account today, except I have clients who rely on me to stay current with what’s going on with it. (Yet another problem with Facebook is that organizations can’t have identities separate from individuals.) But you can bet I’ll be recommending that they seriously consider leaving it.

  3. Eric Eldon says:

    Benjamin,

    We have covered Community Pages in detail already, and discussed these issues. The topic of this post was the process of Community Page changeover for owners, not user privacy issues.

    If you would like to read more, here’s what we’ve already written:

    http://www.insidefacebook.com/2010/04/01/facebooks-creates-new-kind-of-unofficial-community-pages/

    http://www.insidefacebook.com/2010/04/19/in-big-new-product-push-facebook-set-to-launch-6-5-million-new-community-pages/

    http://www.insidefacebook.com/2010/04/19/if-you-link-your-profile-data-to-pages-then-you-make-that-information-public-by-default/

    http://www.insidefacebook.com/2010/04/27/us-congress-takes-closer-look-at-certain-facebook-privacy-issues/

    http://www.insidefacebook.com/2010/04/30/facebook-roundup-privacy-html5-amazon-aol-and-liveworld/

    Please don’t assume we “failed to mention” anything until you have checked out our coverage.

    Thanks.

  4. Benjamin Chambers says:

    I stand corrected; you covered, or at least touched upon, some of the items I was complaining about elsewhere.

    Upon reflection, I see that part of what I was reacting to in this post was present in the others you linked to — an editorial stance vis-a-vis Facebook that’s far more forgiving than I think is warranted — but that’s my problem, not yours.

    Thanks for the links. The second one was helpful, and answered a question I’d had about how to handle other interests on my profile.

  5. Eric Eldon says:

    Hi Benjamin,

    I don’t mean to be rude on my end. My goal here is to objectively cover what the changes are. Typically, people hate any sort of change that Facebook makes. But they often like the changes once they get used to them. I try to avoid value judgements until I get a clearer sense for how the changes are functioning in practice.

    In this case, I noted some issues with Community Pages in my past articles, like the potential for misunderstanding about how Community Pages are created through the profile transition tool.

    I can understand your frustration with this. It’s possible that Facebook knew that the transition tool would not clearly explain how Pages worked to users, leading to people accidentally releasing more information than they intended.

    It’s also possible that the company thought they were providing the clearest interface they could in order to explain the changes, and that the changes themselves would be beneficial for users.

    However, you’re conflating errors in their ideas and execution with bad intentions. My view is that Facebook will make some mistakes, or at least make people upset, whenever they do anything. Same for any web company.

    How would you have handled this product and its launch differently?

  6. DSM says:

    Not stringent enough, sorry.

    The verification process should include submitting proof of articles of incorporation or business license from your city hall(which requires registering your business at a courthouse), or IRS EIN.

    You know these stupid children and adults who failed reading comprehension are just going to try to scam their way into keeping their idiotic pages by reclassifying them, which will still have nothing to do with the title – retail: I need 1million fans for this VS that garbage.

    I think you touched on in another article that they wanted page owners to verify their connection to their page to post some type of ad on their user profile. Pfft..

    Pages are for business, and if you have a LEGITIMATE business, it will be registered at the city or at the state level. The same goes for trademark registration which they so claim to cherish and gives you INSTANT verification.

    To the poster above, yes you can create a page without using your personal account, but I will not disclose it because I know how to find these little weasel admins who create bogus pages, and I can do a background check and then report them. If they were able to use an anonymous business name as an admin name, it becomes impossible, and FB should address this. After all, business is PUBLIC information, and anyone who owns a business page should have their public relations contact name, number, address associated with it so people don’t get screwed into thinking it’s official.

  7. Benjamin Chambers says:

    Thanks, Eric. I do appreciate your approach, and your attempt to not simply react negatively to FB’s changes just because they’re new.

    I grant you that explaining the launch of Community Pages clearly to people would be difficult, but if I were doing it, I’d (a) provide more up front notice, with links to background information on rationale, FAQs, and “What to do if …” and (b) I wouldn’t set it up so that people are required to link to FB pages if they want to list information under certain headings of their “Info” tab. I didn’t mind, for example, naming the college I went to in my info tab, but I have no particular interest in linking to it. It doesn’t hurt me to do so, but I’m human enough to want a choice about whether I do or not. It’s simply maddening that if I choose not to, I can’t list *anything* about my education there. And the same goes for the other sections to which this applies.

    In any case, I’m unconvinced that there was a problem with Pages that had to be solved. From a user standpoint, there’s no reason that FB’s official Pages *have* to be used exactly the way FB intended.

    As for intent, you’re right: I can’t judge FB’s intentions accurately, and I’m sure there are many people with good intentions inside FB. But the user environment feels increasingly dictatorial and company-centered, to put it kindly.

    Sure, they own the space. And yes, they’re in it to make a profit, and I don’t object to that, at least not in theory. I don’t expect it to run like an cooperative – they’re going to make decisions that not everyone will like, and I’m okay with that, in general. What I object to is that the company’s overall attitude toward its users is feeling increasingly exploitative.

    FB is run by smart people who know perfectly well that most users don’t understand the value of the data they’re sharing (at most, they think if they’ve hidden their birthday and their phone number, they’re not sharing anything of commercial value), so when FB suddenly decides that users would be better served if their profile information was less private and it creates a pop-up window that assumes users want to opt-in to share all their information … or when it creates a system where my data is shared with “partner” companies when my friends visit a partner’s page (e.g., Yelp!) even when I’ve said I don’t want to participate in the “personalization” program … or it suddenly links all of the items in my profile and status updates to FB pages (even going to the length of creating new pages from scraped content) and punishing me if I try to disconnect from this (on my profile, anyhow, which is the only place where I have a choice about it) … all that contributes to the sense that I’ve gone from being a user to just plain used.

    Anyway, enough ranting. Again, I appreciate the work you do to try to explain these changes and their potential value.

  8. Benjamin Chambers says:

    Eric, I got so caught up in my rant, I forgot to ask something: have you heard anything about Facebook blocking use of bit.ly shortened links?

    A nonprofit I work for uses the bit.ly links in its status updates (to link to blog posts, etc.) on its official FB Page because it can then track clicks on specific links.

    As of today, FB won’t let status updates with bit.ly links attached be posted, saying they contain “blocked content” — though doing the same post with a straight, non-shortened URL seems to work fine.

    Worst of all, all of the nonprofit’s recent status updates (and older ones), which contained bit.ly links, are now blocked as well. There’s nothing objectionable in our content, and regular URLs aren’t blocked when being posted, so it appears to be a change to bit.ly.

    Any news?

  9. Benjamin Chambers says:

    And … now it appears the bit.ly links are working again. Guess it’s not an issue after all.

  10. Jason says:

    Hi,

    Do you know if you can get Community Pages deleted?

    What if the Admin for an Official Page doesn’t want a duplicate Community Page out there? Is there an appeal process for that?

    Thanks.

  11. Was tun, wenn die eigene Facebook-Seite in eine Gemeinschaftsseite umgewandelt wurde? « In Sachen Kommunikation says:

    [...] insidefacebook berichtet, ist die Umwandlung von als offiziell angelegten Seiten zu Gemeinschaftsseiten etwas, das [...]

  12. What’s Your Addiction? (Episode 39) says:

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  13. James Melzer says:

    I’m an author, and was surprised to find that Facebook had auto-generated a Community Page for me. Upon further inspection, I realized that everything I post on my own, personal profile page which is set to Friends Only, automatically gets posted to this “Community Page” which is public.

    I tried to contact Facebook to find out how to stop this, but have got no response.

  14. Trovia Stewart says:

    Yes i received a community page also and want it to be deleted especially since i dont have a business yet and i also dont want everyone reading my status updates that are being pulled from my profile page. How can this be deleted?

  15. Bradley says:

    I work with two legitimate non-profits who submitted appeals against community page reclassification last month, and they still have not received responses from Facebook. Do you have any updates on how this appeals process is working?

  16. Sherna says:

    Before I proceed to request to have my page classified as official as I have submitted the information on the form provided in the link.

    I must highly thank Facebook for allowing us page owners the opportunity to appeal to have our page classification changed this shows that you care about people and give information.

    I comment Mr.Eric Eldon for this post as I was oblivious to the fact that our organization did not own our page and have the official rights to it, we were made aware by the information box which was posted on our page information given below in regards to this.

    And I believe there are many other page creators who are in the dark in regards to this because even the information which is posted on the top of the page does not say you do not own your page, so when persons see the words miscategorized they will just pass it by and as nothing of importance.

    First: Facebook must place a note at the bottom or top of the create a page under community page stating that if you create a community page you will not own the page and it will be classified as unofficial and hence the creators of the page and other functions will not be seen.

    Presently as it is stated persons who will think to create a community page focusing on the words Cause, or topic will believe they will have full rights to the page they have created. This is misleading and a bold note must be placed on top of the area when one decides to create a page in the future they must accept this option so persons will not be confused later on.

    Second: I will like to get my page classified as official and I thank facebook for showing the info and the link to the appeal form above the page, when I went to my page I was pleasantly surprised to see the following information:

    (This Page has been recategorized as a Community Page Community Pages represent causes, topics and ideas (as opposed to official entities such as businesses, bands and public figures). This change has not affected your Page’s presence on Facebook. If you think your Page has been miscategorized, let us know.)

    What I need to know is how long does this process take as we are about to launch some nationwide campaign in regards to our organization and we are also in the process of launching a television and radio programme in regards to our organization and the sensitive subject we deal with and our website will be launched very soon, and our page will play a huge part in our campaign and television and radio programmes so we need to have it classified as official as soon as possible, thank you very much.

    I have submitted two appeals and I do hope that this page is classified as official very soon, I have faith that facebook is a very professional, caring,effective, and efficient organization and will work very hard to making their members happy .
    Thanking you in advance in regards to this matter.

    My page name is “I AM SAYING NO TO ABUSE”

  17. Lexie says:

    Thank you for this informative post. I however have a slightly different problem that I’m hoping you can speak to.

    I just started managing a FB Page for my company and noticed that there is a second Page being managed by an unknown entity on behalf of our company as well. Unfortunately no one recognized this until now and the ‘unofficial’ page has 3x the fans that our ‘official’ page does. Is there anything we can do? And also important, is there anything we can do to transfer the fans from the ‘unofficial’ page to ours (my hunch is that fans believe this page to be the official page merely because there are more fans).

    Your insight is considered valued, thank you.

  18. Gus says:

    I am not on facebook nor do I want to be, yet there is a facebook community page about me with personal information and it now comes up #1 on Google. What can I do about this?

  19. Raine says:

    I need some help and have a few questions about all of this. Is there anyone that could help me out?

  20. Martin Lodge says:

    Can you actually take control of Community pages?
    The problem we have is that the Community page set up for a band we look after has quite a few likes/fans already and we haven’t set up a page yet, as we have just taken on the band.

  21. Has a Facebook Community Page appeared on YOUR business? « LaMich's Blog for FBSmarty and LaMich Productions says:

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  22. Keller says:

    Thank you so much for the info! Somehow, my page got categorized as a “Community” page and I’m pretty sure I didn’t set it up that way. I just filled out that form and I hope to hear good news from Facebook soon!

  23. Paul says:

    Facebook changed my band page to a community page. I guess they didn’t notice all my original music and video’s.

    I filled out the mis categorized form and have not heard back from Facebook. I have the biggest gig this weekend and I have no band page. FACEBOOK SUCKS. I think I’ll write a song about Facebook and put in on CD baby and link my personal page to it.

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