My Facebook Page for Health Month (which had just barely launched) was unfairly taken down last week (October 3rd) because a false claim of IP infringement by a spiteful competitor. Apparently, Facebook’s lawyers have convinced them that it’s safer to just act swiftly on any and every claim of IP infringement than to think about accurate claims versus false claims. I wrote to Facebook a total of 15 times over the last 8 days, and got variations of this message sent to me at least half a dozen times:
When we receive a proper claim of IP infringement, we promptly remove or disable access to the allegedly infringing content. Unfortunately, we will be unable to restore this content unless we receive a direct request from this party. If you believe that this claim has been made under false pretenses, we recommend that you contact a lawyer or your local law enforcement agency and discuss this issue with them.
I never got to speak to anyone on the phone, or ever got a chance to escalate my case to someone who could do more than cut and paste blurbs to me. I pleaded and reasoned with them and sent them every piece of evidence I could that the claim was false (even though they never actually told me the specifics of the claim) including the fact that the Facebook Group that was shut down along with my Page had been around for 2.5 years, and the accuser’s website had been up less than a month and didn’t have enough traffic to show up on compete.com. CLEARLY, a false claim by anyone’s standards, and that’s not counting the half-dozen other pieces of evidence I had dug up in my research.
Reason didn’t work. Lawyers would cost too much and take too long. Law enforcement agencies? Please.
Then what did work? Writing up the evidence, posting it to my blog, and asking people to retweet it. Within a couple hours I had over 100 retweets, over a thousand views, the 2nd result on Google for his name, several contacts at Facebook forwarding it up the chain, and (most importantly) a reply from up-until-then silent accuser that he had contacted Facebook and asked that my page be put back up.
Twitter-bullying works. The repercussions of this are pretty huge, I think. Social networks keep people honest. The fact that I could tell my accuser that if he didn’t reply within 12 hours that I would be writing to each of his family members on Facebook (I searched his friends for people with his last name) and inform them of his behavior… that’s pressure!
On the one hand, the Internet’s ability to connect any sketchy dude with a big corporation’s paranoid lawyers is what got my page taken down. Legality doesn’t take advantage of the social network, it operates in fear and lets risk-adversity reign. But on the other hand, getting the page back up… using the social network to spread a valid and true case, to use real names, to find real people with real relationships, to appeal to reputation and status… THAT keeps us honest.
The moral of the story. Don’t mess with the social network. It will make you behave according to its rules. It will FORCE you to, even, or kick you out.
Because I respect the power of all of this, I’ve taken down the post with all the accusing details, real names, etc, (who knows how long it will exist on Google though) and will give this guy a break. Thank you, everyone, for helping. Now, let’s disperse and enjoy the rest of our day.