Facebook has a ton of rules.
At the PR agency where I work, we are constantly working to make sure our client’s Facebook pages stay in accordance with those rules. Outside of work, I’ve worked with an organization called “Sexual Futurist” to help grow its Facebook fans.
One day, I’m logging on to Facebook and I see this:
Sexual Futurist is an organization that strives to create a community of people who can start intelligent conversations about sex. It is their theory that by breaking the stigma of talking about human sexuality, we will be able to solve many problems of society’s challenges, such as managing sex offenders, understanding sexual politics, and so on.
I set up their page, and therefore am an administrator.
The Facebook page supports the group’s mission of breaking the stigma. Sexual Futurist wanted to expand its reach and invite people who live in countries where sexual conversation is taboo to join them.
Enter: Facebook advertising.
I advised the group to use Facebook ads to reach its target demographic in countries all over the world: India, Pakistan, Brazil, etc. As a result, the Sexual Futurist page grew from a few hundred fans in 2011 to nearly 15,000 fans 2012.
Members of the group started noticing that out of 14,000 fans, Facebook was only showing the posts to maybe 1,000 to 3,000 of the fans. So they paid for Facebook posts, promoting them—for the small fee of $75—to their fans that they had already paid Facebook to obtain.
Along the way, Sexual Futurist wrote a review of The New York Times bestseller “Sex at Dawn” by Christopher Ryan. The promoted post said: “Best. Human. Sexuality. Book. Ever. Join our book club!”
I’m not exactly sure what happened next. My best guess is that Facebook promoted this post to Sexual Futurist’s fans in Pakistan and to the friends of those fans (judging by the comments left on the post). Pakistan is comprised mostly of Muslims, who were offended by the cover of this book. It is likely that this offense led them to at least one of a few actions: complain, block, report the page.
Regardless, the post drew the attention of Facebook officials.
Facebook sent the notification saying that the Sexual Futurist page was to never again show up in the newsfeeds of the group’s own fans. As an administrator, I appealed this decision, because I didn’t see why the page should be banned if they were not breaking any of Facebook’s rules that I was aware of.
Facebook responded to my appeal with this:
Sexual Futurist has now been permanently banned from appearing in the fan newsfeeds. So even the people who signed up and said they wanted to see the content no longer will. These incidents highlights a flaw in the system: Facebook should never have shown the content to people who hadn’t opted in to see it (the fans). As a result of this approach, Sexual Futurist has shelled out quite a bit money to Facebook for a page of 15K fans—that is obsolete because no one will visit the page without seeing it in their newsfeeds.
If you are a Facebook administrator, choose your spending carefully. Some items can become obsolete the next day, or in this case, the page can become obsolete.