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The Internet was abuzz earlier this week with the news that the Facebook Page of celebrity gossip outlet The Shade Room had been removed from Facebook, by Facebook. 

With over 4 million Page Likes, its a massive chunk of the online community gone. Just like that.

The Shade Room has since set up a new Facebook Page, and at time of writing it has just under 11,000 Page Likes. So still a way to go before it is back where it was.

So why was it removed?

Facebook claims that the Page has violated Facebook’s terms of service, relating to copyright issues. A core aspect of the Page’s content strategy was reposting photos taken from celebrities’ social media accounts, seemingly without permission.

Any organisation or person who publishes content to Facebook (and other social media channels) does so in agreement with the social network’s policies, and these can change, so the onus is on the user to be aware of them.

And despite the spammy messages that do the rounds to Page admins occasionally, “warning” them of breaches of the terms, it appears that Facebook is less likely to take the time to warn those breaking the rules, and simply remove the content, Page or profile.

So what can we learn from The Shade Room?

1. Own your primary online “space”

It’s ALWAYS risky to invest all of your time and energy into a third party channel, like Facebook.

You should focus your attention on a digital channel that you “own” like your website, or email subscriber list, and view any social channels you also use as tools that help to link out from, and into this “hub”.

2. Back up your data

When you do lose access to an account, or have it removed, all of the content you have published there may be lost as well. So if you are creating and sharing any type of content from a social channel (written, image, video, audio etc) keep a copy of it locally.

I draft the majority of my social media updates in a Google Doc that I regularly back up, and write my blog posts in Text Edit, before loading them onto my website, and all images are edited and saved on my local server (which is also backed up).

It is also good practice to regularly take a back up of all of your website files, especially before updating your content management system (CMS), website theme, or making any other major updates.

3. Understand the house rules (and follow them)

The vast majority of social channels are free to use. So if you choose to use them, you are choosing to play by their rules. So take the time to understand them, and either abide by them, or accept the risk you run in breaking them.

The two big ones for me are:

  • Social media competitions
  • Content copyright

ESPECIALLY for Facebook. Page Admins, read and understand the Promotion Guidelines! (See section E of the Page Guidelines here). 

To be honest, I think with all of the prompts that Facebook uses to encourage Page Admins to promote their Pages and Posts, they could use a couple of those calls to action to educate Admins about how to run social media competitions and appropriate use and attribution of content, but apparently not.

“Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries”, and “tag your friends in this post to enter” are not permitted).” See full Facebook Page Guidelines here.

And just because an image is on the Internet does not mean you can share it!

Yes, I KNOW that a lot of people run competitions that break the rules, and share content that isn’t theirs, but that doesn’t make it right. And if you get caught, it doesn’t matter what they did. You’ll be the one who loses.

You can read more about online content copyright in our Highlights from the Australian Copyright Council’s Copyright Workshop blog post here

And the image used on this post was purchased by Scout from a stock photography site, with permission to use like this.

4. Educate your team (and make sure you can trust them)

If you have a number of administrators of your digital channels and social media accounts, make sure they all understand and abide by the rules.

Also, make sure that you trust them, and/or they have appropriate account access. It’s bad enough that Facebook can remove your account without having to worry about a rogue employee or ex-employee taking over your account, or removing all other Page Admins.

And unless you spend A LOT of advertising dollars with Facebook, it is NOT going to be easy to get control of your Page again…

5. Invest in creating your own original content

This final lesson was touched on in No.3 but it’s worth repeating…

The Internet IS a wonderful place for sharing content, but if you are sharing other people’s content:

  • Get their permission… first!
  • Credit them (link or tag to their profile or original post)

What’s even better though? Creating and sharing your own awesome, original content!


Have you learnt anything else from this week’s The Shade Room saga? Let me know in the comments!

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