When you signed up for the popular social networking site, did you take the time to read the Terms of Service? Most people don’t, and could be violating the rules without even realizing it. Whether you have a personal or business account (or both), the terms of service (TOS) applies to everyone who signs up with the multi-billion dollar corporation. All websites have the dreaded TOS. They design them so long and commonly with words that one needs a lawyer to understand, that we don’t even bother to read it and just scroll to the bottom until we find the link or button that lets us accept it. This probably isn’t such a good idea, seeing that we could be signing away our first born child, but there are few that actually read through the entire statement.
If you have a business account, the first thing you may do is create a banner with your Facebook business page. This is perfectly acceptable (and Facebook-legal), but there are some things that you may not know about, when designing the lovely topper. You also might not have known about what you can and cannot do, when creating announcements and contests for your business through Facebook, or how you advertise. Here are some ways you might be violating the policies with your pages, without even knowing it.
5) Your Kids Cannot Use A Different Name, Even If For Safety Precautions.
In Facebook’s Legal Terms section (part four of “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities; Registration and Account Security”), it states: “You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook,” which basically means that you cannot use a fake or even a nick-name when signing up for the website. If you have a fourteen year-old daughter, sometimes it’s comforting to have the security of knowing that people do not know her true identity. When she is “incognito”, her precise location cannot easily be looked up and found out. If you want to keep that secret safe, the only way to do that is to not allow her to have a Facebook account.
If you are married and don’t legally change your name, be sure to use the exact surname that is on your legally issued identification, or Facebook could shut down your account until you can provide proof that it is your true identity. Facebook actually states that this will never happen, but there is a genuine story of someone who had this exact situation befall upon them. This user did not use her husband’s last name when she got married for business purposes, but was still legally married. She had sent Facebook a copy of her wedding certificate, after her account was suspended after years of being a trusted member of the website. She was told that her name had to match the name that was on her government issued ID and had to prove it by sending over documented information. To make matters worse, most people who knew her by her legally married name, are now confused about who this other person is, and did not even realize it was the same person. She most likely lost a lot of friends in the process. Luckily, this person was able to retrieve her Facebook account in a mere twelve hours, but several people have lost their accounts for weeks, months, or completely all together because of this Facebook blunder. This must be completely random, because there are a lot of Facebook users out there who use completely fictitious names, or even create profiles for their pets. Granted, there are a lot of names currently that are not generally used, but you would have to be pretty mean to name your child Pixie Black Dust or Tried Tested Perfected; two profile names that were found among the millions of users in the social network. According to CNN, there are over 83 million Facebook accounts that are counterfeits, so it looks like Facebook has a lot of work to do, if they want to catch up to everyone who is creating a fictional profile.
4) Stop Tagging People In Pictures Without Telling Them First!
Number nine under “Protecting People’s Rights” states that “You will not tag users or send email invitations to non-users without their consent. Facebook offers social reporting tools to enable users to provide feedback about tagging.” Supposedly tagging a user in a photograph violates other’s rights, when it comes to their personal privacy. You should not have posted that terrible picture that you took of your best friend while at that frat party fifteen years ago. And you definitely should not have posted it on Facebook, nor should you have tagged him in it! It’s not only a moral faux-pas, but an illegal one, as well, when it comes to Facebook laws. Certainly there are many people in all kinds of social networks who believe that every single picture should be shared with the rest of the world, but for those of us who are not the most photogenic, please do not post those twenty year-old photographs and tag us in them, without asking permission first. You never know how many friends you could lose just by one horrible snapshot.
3) Are You Trying To Sell The Earrings That You Made Through Your Personal Page? That Is Illegal, Too.
“You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes,” is number four under Account security and registration in Facebook land. According to this rule, you cannot use your personal page to try to sell anything through the site, and must create a business page. Even if it is just for one item, you have to design and build a different page to try and get rid of those dangles that took you five minutes to create. The only problem with this, is that now Facebook has made it practically impossible for all of your friends to see what you post on your business page, so there really is no point of wasting all of that time creating one, just to sell one item. It used to be that a seller could create a page, try to get their friends to like it, and try to get more fans to come see their page to try and make more sales. Now, a business owner has to pay to get views of the page, even if they have all of their friends “liking” the page already. The only way around that is to tell every single one of the business owner’s friends, to go to their business page, like a posting that they have created, and share it amongst their friends. More than once. Then perhaps, all of their friends will see that pair of earrings that they have for sale. But by the time that is done, you may as well just go around knocking on your neighbor’s doors, trying to sell the earrings, it might take less time.
If that is all too much for you to handle, and just want to give someone else the responsibility to handle your page, you cannot do that because number eight under the same legal rules states, “You will not share your password (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.”
2) If You Are Running A Promotion On Your Business Facebook Page, Check Out The Rules First.
If you would like to promote your business on Facebook, that is great, as long as you follow the rules, according to the “Promotions” section in the guidelines. You must list all of the “official rules” and you are not allowed to promote using your timeline, it must be through your business page. You are not allowed to have your friends share your contests through their page, as many people have done in the past. According to Facebook rules, it states that “Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines 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” is not permitted).” Even some news organizations have been breaking this simple rule, as seen on many Facebook pages.
1) Do You Have The Rights To Every Picture That You Post?
Copyright laws are very strict in the United States, especially when it comes to “borrowing” other people’s pictures or work. Facebook is no exception, even though it has made the majority of its revenue by allowing its users to post pictures that they obviously do not own. Facebook has basically “turned the other cheek” when it comes to people posting other works, mainly “memes” that are created for a good laugh, or finding a quote and pasting it onto a picture that was not photographed by the apparent user. If the website had actually taken the time to close down the pages of those who post stolen works, Facebook would most likely no longer be in business. Facebook does have “community standards,” which basically states that users cannot harass or bully other users, and also states that one should not post nudity or pornography on the site, but none of these are actually enforced to the fullest extent. If any of their terms of service rules are broken, a user could most likely have their privileges revoked, and would no longer have a Facebook account. If they did so, Facebook would most likely be bankrupt within a short amount of time.
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