While social media is providing wonderful opportunities in communication and marketing, don’t ever think that you own your user accounts. They can be taken away from you at any time with no warning whatsoever. Just wake up one morning and ‘poof’, it’s all gone.
The most recent experience for me is in having a Facebook account terminated after two years. It was an account I set up to promote my book Milo Moon at the time of its release. With over 800 followers it was reasonably popular and a friendly little account to keep my book working. However, in a flash, it’s gone. No warning, no email from Facebook, just gone, dead, finished. The reason? Facebook’s new ‘real name’ policy. Here’s the gist of it from the Facebook FAQ I received when I went to Milo’s account.
Disabled » Disabled – Inauthentic account
Why doesn’t Facebook allow fake names?
Facebook is a community where people connect and share using their real identities. When everyone uses their real first and last names, you always know who you’re connecting with. This helps keep our community safe. We take the safety of our community very seriously. That’s why we remove fake accounts from the site as we find them.
I suppose one could argue that I should have set up ‘Page’ at the time, but ended up creating a ‘Profile’. But after 2 years, it’s a bit stiff to have poor Milo killed off in an instant by a change of policy. It is however a good reminder that your social media accounts are not yours. So never put all your eggs in one basket. I have had Twitter accounts suspended, and occasionally unsuspended when I have grovelled enough, but in general, once your user account is killed, it’s killed for good. So what can you do to protect your social media presence? Not a lot unfortunately.
First is to clearly understand the terms by which the social media service operates and what limitations are placed upon you. However, these of course can change, and do, as many businesses discovered on Google+. All their accounts were suspended without notice because Google has a new but as yet unreleased plan for business accounts. So even if you follow the rules, there is no guarantee that the rules won’t change at some stage in the future and have you violating their new terms of service.
The other precaution is to have back up or reserve accounts. On Twitter this is very easy, but on Facebook and Google, very difficult. So take care, but be warned again. That social media account you love so much is not yours!