Why your company needs a Facebook Emergency Access Plan

We all know that using a fake or slightly inaccurate name on Facebook can land a personal account in what’s known as Facebook Jail. Most every one of you reading this also knows that your personal account is linked to your Business Pages, Business Manager, and Ad Manager accounts. It follows that most everyone in digital marketing would make the connection that if something happens to their personal account, the rest fall like dominoes.

Right now many of our owned media pages and our own ad manager account at Winner Winner Chicken Dinner are totally inaccessible. There is also a chance based on the January dated posts on ConsumerAffairs that Facebook will delete our pages or my 12 year old, very active, mobile verified, credit card bearing, personal Facebook account. This is because someone reported my personal profile on Facebook as a fake. When Facebook asked me for my government i.d. and told me they would keep it on permanent file on their servers, I declined. I use a pseudonym of Facebook for a handful of reasons 1. so business colleagues and potential clients find my business page instead, 2. To keep the odd crazy person from reading something I’ve written that they disagree with then finding my profile and harassing my family and friends from it (which yes has happened more than once). I own my personal identity, not Facebook, and frankly I don’t trust their security more than my own judgement.

Unfortunately this decision to decline Facebook’s egregious request put my account into lockdown for the past 6 days, which alternatively means my ability to access all of my business accounts is also on lockdown. While this is exceedingly bad, it’s not really the worst part of this.

Read the full story of the on-going lockdown here on Medium

In 2015 Facebook earned about $4 billion in profits as a publicly traded company. Those profits, as everyone well knows, are based solely on the massive volumes of personal information entrusted to the company by users and from the businesses willing to pay to use their detailed targeted advertising system to reach those users. They also have a total number of exactly 0 customer service agents to help those businesses or users do pretty much anything. If you poke around the web you’ll find phone numbers and emails for Facebook that you can try and use. A call to the phone number will get you an automated message telling you to check the business help center, an email to the Facebook Ads email address will get you an autoresponder with links to the business help center where it says you can ask questions. While Facebook does have customer service representatives, most likely outsourced to another country, their system appears to be entirely automated meaning those real humans are simply digging through the stuff put in front of them with zero way for anyone outside of Zuckerberg’s personal friends to reach a human being for help.

I’m not saying that automating some of your customer service is necessarily bad, there is one major problem with the approach though for Facebook users, if you do not have a Facebook account you can’t login to ask questions. And you can’t ask questions about your business account if you can’t validate that it’s your account by posting a question with the attached personal profile. Essentially if you find yourself in Facebook Jail all of your Facebook Marketing / Advertising efforts are rendered useless.

Strangely enough this might actually open Facebook up to small claims lawsuits since during your time in Facebook Jail you can’t access your advertising accounts to adjust them or pause them as you desire and effectively Facebook is charging you for something you are next explicitly authorizing. [not a lawyer, possibility of a small claims suit keep coming up in conversations with others]

Remember this is all because one single person reported my account as fake and the first image I uploaded was not a government issued i.d. What if 10 people reported me as fake? 100? 1,000? There is the possibility that Facebook’s unwavering dedication to automated complaint handling could be manipulated by blackhat marketersBlack Hat noun plural noun: black hats A marketer who uses their skills and knowledge in nefarious ways either for themselves or clients. Derived from the..., competitors of yours, or even government agents looking to cripple businesses for whatever reason they might have. And we have evidence of these possibilities already hurting users on Facebook. If you read over customer complaints about Facebook on review sites you’ll see that in the past few months (Nov ’16-Jan ’17) users have been blocked from their accounts for long periods of time or permanently due to things such as:

  • Too many bad login attempts.
  • Because a hacker stole someones photos, built an account, then got the original account shutdown for pretending to be someone.
  • For having nude photos when they didn’t.
  • Because a convicted rapist keeps making fake accounts to harass you so you changed your name on a new account in hopes they wouldn’t find your new profile.
  • And one where a DJ legally changed his name, provided documentation to Facebook, but they ban him every year anyway.
  • Each one of these could easily take up to a week to resolve, or if those same reviewers are to be believed if Facebook’s outsourced customer service wants to they could deem the complaint as valid and delete the entire account.

    As Facebook continues to become a platformPlatform noun Any website, mobile app, SaaS, or other digital application which allows the public to own accounts that provide data which can be extracted... of more than content discovery and a place where real lead generation and sales are taking root, this particular dilemma will undoubtedly continue to pester many business owners and marketers.

    As a person who likes to employ the label ‘white hat’ and prides myself on being ethical this creates a particular conundrum. It would seem that the only real way to provide absolute security for your business operations on Facebook, since you can’t rely on Facebook to actually care, would be to hedge against your inevitable time in Facebook Jail by creating fake Facebook accounts that appear as very real members of your company and giving that account administrative access to your pages and ad manager.

    This sucks, but Facebook is no longer giving us business owners and marketers an option. Since they refuse to create a decent customer service program for business owners, since they are now an undeniable source for achieving practical business goals, and since there are no laws on the books or previous court cases of note around these issues – there is no other choice but to protect your business, your bank accounts, and your assets by creating fake user accounts and making them admins. The following should help you create a fake account that works for your business needs. For now Facebook has not penalized businesses for having a fake personal account set as an editor or admin of any accounts, simply frozen the suspected fake personal account itself.

    How To Create A Fake Personal Account for Facebook Businesses

    1. Use an email address hosted on a domain you control (i.e. fakefb@yoursite.com)
    2. Chose a name that blends together a fairly common first and last name. Do not mimic real business owner / marketer / executive names. Do not use a name like “Company Marketing” or “Marketing Department”, they get flagged quickly.
    3. Don’t upload a personal photo to this account – ever. A friend of whoever you use might see the picture and flag it as fake or the Facebook facial recognition might (someday) be used in this capacity as well. While Facebook wants personal photos to be used, it’s one of the rarer enforced rules.
    4. Only friend employees and executives at the company covered under NDA’s.
    5. Like some pages related to your business and your business pages.
    6. Create a persona for the account.
    7. Like some local restaurants / bar pages.
    8. Create a few updates per week for the first few weeks of account activity that resemble real peopl updates. Things about kids / sports / weather events / books / movies / music/concerts / festivals / family.
    9. Get a pre-paid mobile smartphone and download the Facebook app.
    10. Keep the phone for a few months use it to check in to places at random.
    11. Get something like Sideline or a similar app to get a second phone number and mobile verify the fake account on this number.
    12. Reduce postings gradually down to once a month or once every other month.

    This should be your Facebook Emergency Access Plan so that you’re not in the boat we’re in wondering what will happen to our accounts, when we’ll get access, and what the ad performance and spend looks like. If you’re working with clients always ask that the client use their personal account to be added as an admin, worst case scenario they would be able to readd you should an emergency arise.

    Don’t try and make this fake account like a new age Betty Crocker. Facebook will shut it down, since this is for emergency access you want the account to be a ghost. Make sure you login enough to check for Facebook having flagged the account, if they flag it then keep making another one until they either get better customer service, make a better business access solution, or they start punishing businesses for these types of personal accounts.

    Joe Youngblood

    Joe Youngblood

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    Joe Youngblood is a top Dallas SEO, Digital Marketer, and Marketing Theorist. When he's not working with clients or writing about marketing he spends time supporting local non-profits and taking his dogs to various parks.

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