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Major Flaws in Facebook Pages

Mar - 16 - 2010
Nicole C. Engard

Last week I was teaching librarians about how they can use Facebook to promote their libraries. During our class, we found some major flaws in the system, flaws that make it so that many librarians have valid concerns about starting a page for their library on Facebook.

On the day of the class we found that Facebook had removed the link to create a page for your business from the homepage (now I see that it is there again). This implied to me that you could no longer have a Facebook page without first having a personal account (but I now see that maybe it was just a glitch – or a glimpse of something yet to come). One of my students said that she had created a page using that link and was later asked to link it to a personal account. I can’t confirm this because I don’t want to go against any of the Facebook terms and conditions by creating a fake page to test this out, but she showed me the page and the fact that it was indeed now linked to a personal account.

Here are my concerns about requiring that pages be linked to personal accounts.

First, Facebook has made it clear that you can have either a business account or a personal account and having two accounts for any purpose is a violation of the terms. This means that you can’t keep work and personal separate, something that I recommend to many of those attending my Facebook classes.

Next, Facebook thinks that only one person should be administering business accounts. This is a hugely unreasonable request/assumption. Not every business is large enough to have one person devoted to monitoring and updating social networks, in many small businesses (such as a library) it is necessary to have multiple people log into the business account to update the page.

Follow that with the fact that users cannot transfer ownership of pages for any reason and you now find yourself in quite a predicament 5 years down the road when the one person you hired to administer your business page decides to leave the company and deletes the page you worked so hard to maintain all those years.

I think that we need to see some major changes made to the way business pages/accounts are handled on Facebook. I think that business accounts should be separate from personal accounts no matter what. I also think that transferring ownership of a page should be possible, if for no other reason than the fact that people retire eventually and you can’t expect them to maintain the page once they do that. In a more realistic world, people change jobs they should not have to hold on to the page for their previous employer – nor should they have to share administrative rights with people who still work for the company in question.

I am not suggesting that I be allowed to have two accounts with my name on them – one that I use for business and one that I use for personal communications – I’m suggesting that I should be able to maintain two accounts – one with my name on it for whatever I want and one with my company (or library) name on it for business purposes only! Have you ever tried to reply to a comment on a page that you’re the admin for? Your reply automatically appears as if it’s from the page itself – but what if I want to put my own personal comment on there? I can’t – and on top of that the people visiting the page don’t know who the admin is – so there is no way to know that the comments the page has made are actually from me.

While I still think Facebook pages are a great idea and will continue to educate fellow librarians about them, I think there are some serious flaws in the design that need to be addressed soon – layoffs are common and people who are laid off are not always happy to just hold on to the page for their employer … which means watching the page disappear and then having to start all over again …. seems like a no-brainer to me.

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19 Responses so far.

  1. Anthony Russo says:

    Very good article and points about Facebook pages. I maintain the Facebook Page for my company, Infinity Conference Call. It is very linked to my personal account obviously, to the point where someone who is a co-admin of the company posted on there that they are going to New York City for a business trip, it showed up in my personal feed as coming from me, as well as the ICC page.

    I had to let my daughter off at college know that it was from the company and I in fact was not taking a business trip. A minor inconvenience, but something I would like better control of if possible.

    In addition to that, I have recently switched companies that I work for, and if I was maintaining a Facebook page for my former company, I would not want to continue maintaining it. Another great example of changes needed.

    Great article, and points.

    Anthony Russo
    Conferencing Specialist
    Infinity Conference Call
    arusso@infinityconferencecall.com
    http://blog.infinityconferencecall.com/
    http://www.facebook.com/infinityconferencecall
    Skype: anth.russo
    Twitter: @AnthonyRusso

  2. DerikB says:

    Just came upon that “no transfer of pages” issue. I made the FB page for my library and now that I left… I’m still stuck on there as an admin.

  3. Nicole says:

    Exactly the problem I’m talking about. And it’s not like we want to be spiteful and delete our old employer’s page, but at the same time we shouldn’t be the ones holding the reigns…

  4. joan says:

    Nicole, can you explain a bit more? It’s easy to add other administrators to pages (though you have to friend them first–that’s a bit annoying if they’re not your actual FB friend but only a colleague, though I suppose that’s what different profile views are for). If you have a page for your library and leave, you’d need to find someone else to take it over anyway, and then they can remove you as administrator. Right?

    I agree that I don’t like that when you post to your page, you post as the business and can’t post as yourself, but that’s not a huge issue to me.

    I’ve been looking at some active library Facebook pages lately, and have been really impressed by the vibrant discussions going on on some libraries’ walls.

  5. joan says:

    Okay, just saw that the original creator of the page can never be removed. That’s really annoying.

  6. Nicole says:

    Exactly the problem I’m trying to make clear :) of course you can add admins, but then the old employee still has rights to edit and delete the page….

  7. in our library’s facebook sessions we demonstrate to attendees how to manage facebook friends lists, and then how to use facebook’s privacy settings to control what’s posted/visible to both professional and personal contacts. it’s actually very powerful, and obviates the need for separate accounts.

    the inability to transfer page ownership is pretty silly, though. we have that situation here: although we have multiple admins for our facebook page, and although the librarian who originally created it has moved on, we cannot remove her from the list of admins for the page. definitely a bug, needs to be fixed.

  8. Chris says:

    If a page creator adds an admin for a page, that admin has permission to delete the page. What I’m trying to work out is how to add admins without giving them permission to delete the page. Any ideas?

  9. Nicole says:

    No clue on that one … I’d just like to be able to be removed as a page owner…

  10. Chris says:

    Thanks Nicole. There seem to be very few web pages discussing this point, but I have since found a couple. It does seem that page admins have full permission to delete pages.

    Further, if a page is created and a profile is *not* set up by the creator, and then an admin is assigned, that admin has access to the Settings for the page. From there the admin can assign a new contact email for the account and after that remove the creator’s email address that was used to originally create the page.

    If the page creator then tries to log in to Facebook, they get a message saying their email address is not associated with any account, and they can’t log in.

    If the admin that made the changes logs in, they still see the original creator’s email address as an admin (and can’t change that), but they have effectively blocked access to the page creator.

    I have not tested, however, what happens if that page creator goes ahead and creates a personal account with the same email address. I expect they would regain access to their page. For reasons I now don’t recall, however, I believe it is generally preferable for an organisation to refrain from registering a personal profile for their pages. Therefore, at the least, a wayward admin can force a page creator to create a personal profile, or accept that their page has been hijacked.

    It really saddens me that such a successful software system (and I’m not saying Facebook’s bad) has not fixed up these really basic data security concerns before now. My sneaking suspicion is that they started with a poor database design and are still trying bandaids instead of an amputation.

  11. AFuersteHenry says:

    Nice article! The inability to transfer page ownership is indeed a big problem. Right now, my only hope is that I get sick of Facebook before anything compels me to change jobs, then I could just give up my account and not worry about it. But that’s not exactly a solution.

  12. Sheryl says:

    I didn’t really know what I was doing when I set up our library’s fan page. Somehow I was able to create the fan page without first connecting it to a facebook account, but to finalize it, it had to be connected to an account. So I made a ‘shell’ account with my name and the library’s email address. I know we aren’t supposed to have two accounts, but I didn’t see how I could have it permanently linked to my personal account. I’ve made my personal self and other staff administrators, but when I eventually leave, if we still use facebook, someone else can take over the ownership.

  13. Cab Vinton says:

    Happen to have a contact at FB & this was his reply (3/31), fwiw:

    Regarding the group’s concerns:
    * Users cannot transfer ownership of pages for any reason
    * Only one person should be administering business accounts
    * You can have either a business account or a personal account and having two accounts for any purpose is a violation of the terms.

    These are actually all on the Pages product roadmap for 2010 as high
    priority concerns/deficiencies in the product. Unfortunately, I can’t
    provide a direct timeline but the changes and updates are actively being
    worked in. This feedback is being given directly to the Pages team.

  14. Nicole says:

    Well that’s slightly promising I guess …

  15. MJ says:

    I have the same problem for two pages I administer, I no longer what to be the root admin of them, and I want to transfer the ownership to the person so I can quit, and do my own thing with my own pages.

    I have reached a tolarance level of dealing with stupidity and poorly designed products over the years. Yes facebook is free, but how long does it take to add 500-1000 lines of code and a few tables in the database to allow someone to change owners of the page?????

    seriously this is a security issue for many companies… currently there response is to go and delete the page and make a new one… that is as stupid as it gets, thats like asking coca-cola or pepsi, or microsoft to delete their page because the person that created it left he company.. ahhh now if that happened… I bet you they would get a call from their lawyers to demand a change.. but here we are the small fry…

    I want out of ownership of two of the pages, because I am not interested in being involved in those communities anymore. I just wish facebook would get their butt in gear and solve this issue it would only take 3 days of testing and programming people… maybe just one day if they put a team on it… ahh yes from a programmer to facebook… this is a simple task to do.

  16. Alexandra says:

    Our business page problem is that we don’t know who was the original Admin (or creator) of the page! There has been a lot of transition in the company and we can only assume that whomever originally set up the facebook business page is no longer with us. They were the only admin and therefore none of us can take ownership, as this mysterious person/admin/page owner is the only person who can add on admins. We’ve contacted facebook to see if it’s possible to find out through them whose account the page is connected to…however it’s doubtful that they will share that info. The best advice so far that I have received is to write on the wall for the page asking the admin to reveal themselves…doesn’t look too professional for us though.

    Any ideas?

  17. Nicole says:

    I’m pretty sure you can contact Facebook in that event and get the page back – my old employer did that when I couldn’t transfer the page to them – they contacted someone to give it to them instead.

  18. Laura says:

    Why don’t you create an account with a managerial email – such as ceo@business.com – and use that for the Facebook account and business page? That way it doesn’t matter if the administrator retires, because it’s not “their” account.

  19. Nicole says:

    This is something I recommend now, but I didn’t know of such a problem when I started :)


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