Facebook Pages Being Taken Down, Policy Comes Into Question

Tech Blogs Getting Penalized for Copyright Infringement without Verification

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Numerous reports have been coming out that Facebook is taking down Facebook pages that are accused of infringing upon copyrights. The keyword there is “accused”. Apparently, Facebook does little (or nothing) to verify the legitimacy of the claims before taking action.

Should Facebook be doing more? Tell us what you think.

Several well-known tech blogs, including Ars Technica, Redmond Pie, and Neowin have had their pages removed by Facebook as the result of such a situation (though later the pages were reinstated).

“Prior to the account lockout, we had received no notices of infringement or warnings,” says Ars Technica’s Ken Fisher. “Truly, we awoke to find that Facebook had summoned a judge, jury, and executioner and carried out its swift brand of McJustice all without bothering to let us know that there was even a problem.”

“Further investigation has revealed just how flawed Facebook’s infringement reporting system is,” he adds. “To begin with, someone making a complaint can provide any third-party e-mail address they choose. So it is rather easy to spoof the origin of a complaint, while giving Facebook and the accused no chance for a direct rejoinder.”

Fisher also retweeted this:

@ashponders @kenfisher Even with this, FB is better than Google. Google has no good appeals for _anything_. 3 hours ago via Echofon · powered by @socialditto

NeoWin’s Dave Legg wrote, “We (Neowin) tried to file a countercomplaint, but Facebook just refused to acknowledge it, they simply ignored the content of the email and said once again that we had to contact the complainant and resolve it with them or take them to court.”

Here’s the form for people to submit complaints:

Facebook FormFacebook is developing quite a reputation for being hard to get through to at a human level. David Fagin is suing the company for a dollar to make a point about this, after getting blocked from sending friend requests, being labeled a spammer, and having issues getting through to Facebook.

Facebook’s statement on the page takedown matter, as obtained by Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb goes like this:

We want Facebook to be a place where people can share and discuss openly while respecting the rights of others. We take seriously both the interests of people who post content and those of rights holders. We work to ensure that we don’t take content down as a result of fraudulent notices. However, when a rights holder properly completes our notice form alleging intellectual property (IP) infringement, we will take appropriate action including removing or disabling access to the relevant content. When we do this, we notify the person who shared the content so he or she can take appropriate action, which may include contacting the reporting party or following up with Facebook.

Submitting an IP notice is no trivial matter. The forms in our Help Center require statements under penalty of perjury, and fraudulent claims are subject to legal process.

Hmm. That’s it? They wouldn’t even say why they don’t validate email addresses, which is unfortunate, considering claims have been exposed as being bogus.

Facebook eventually responded to Ars Technica, simply saying it is “looking into the specific takedown request that was made.” Later, they followed with an apology and finally reinstated the page. Ars Technica’s Jacqui Cheng wrote in a later article, after the publication’s page was reinstated:

There are a number of things Facebook needs to fix, however. Let’s start with the vague notifications and slow responses: in nearly all cases, Facebook did not specify which content was supposedly infringing before taking down the entire page. According to Condé Nast’s crack legal team, a proper DMCA takedown is supposed to specify the infringing material, and that content is supposed to be removed immediately until a counterclaim is filed. Facebook did not do this—instead, it claimed “Ars Technica” was the infringing material, and subsequently removed our entire page.

Facebook also did not tell us who filed the claim until moments before the publication of this article—not technically required for the DMCA process, but providing the name of the claimant is industry-wide best practice. So, Ars has only within the past couple of hours found out who filed the bogus complaint against us, and we still don’t know why or for which content. (We’re hoping to follow up with this person, assuming he’s real, in order to find out his motivation for filing the takedown notice.)

This is the second copyright-related blunder Ars Technica has been a part of recently. A while back, Righthaven filed suit against a contributor to the site before realizing that it it didn’t have much of a leg to stand on and dismissing the suit, calling it a “mistake”.

Facebook can drive a lot of traffic to a site – particularly a news site or blog, so having a Facebook Page taken down can be a tremendous blow to such a site.

Facebook’s practice is drawing a great deal of criticism from the Blogosphere. The whole thing is rather interesting considering how Facebook is trying to cozy up with journalists lately.

Should Facebook be doing more to verify claims before taking Facebook Pages down? Comment here.

Facebook Pages Being Taken Down, Policy Comes Into Question
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  • http://www.networketiquette.net David Chiles

    It is bad netiquette to infringe on someone’s copyright. Thank you for sharing ways to improve the copyright protection on Facebook. Tighter restrictions on reporting are a good start. I know there a lot of people who lie about a copyright because I have been tagged in photos that are not me.

  • larry

    You use FB? Hah, you get what you deserve.

    • http://annettelucas.info Annette Lucas

      I’m beginning to feel like Larry – it is almost too risky, from a business point of view, to put so much power over the fate of my business into the hands of someone else. I know FB is all the rage right now but I’m definitely looking at other options as well.

    • Jack

      People Don’t understand how to really use social media.. it is not Facebook or any other platforms fault.. Let me explain.. Many people join Facebook and find their old friends and make new friends while building networks around their brand, which is all great.. but one thing most people seem to do, is use that same platform to engage with their new found “friends”. That is where you are going wrong and the longer you do that, the more dependent you become and the bigger risk you are taking for losing it all overnight!

      so what should you do? well, start interacting with your friends outside of the platform, get your network used to multiple communication options, use social media to bring traffic to your site and create your own social media platform to maintain them on your own site.. just in case FB wants to F–K around, your friends and network come with you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brick-Marketing-SEO-and-SEM-Firm/14204584980 Nick Stamoulis

    If all it takes is a single complaint for Facebook to disable a page (without warning), I worry that the less reputable online population will declare open season on the companies they don’t like. While I appreciate that Facebook wants to penalize those who infringe on copyrights, doing so without warning or allowing those penalized to defend themselves won’t lead to anything good.

  • Mark Van Leeuwen

    I believe FB, Google and others like their “brick and mortar” brethren need to do some due diligence by verifying with boh parties that the claim has merit before removing the content and having some kind of customer service, both phone and e-mail to address the concerns of it’s customers. i.e. the user community. FB wouldn’t exist without the users that interact on the site. Just my $.02

  • Lisa Grant

    Facebook don’t do enough! We are a children’s charity and have had both our Logo stolen and our donations diverted.. they removed our logo but not our email or website address which together make the facebook page look legitimate.

  • http://signature.eu.com/we-promote/search-engine-marketing/ Kent SEO Company

    This makes perfect sense as copyright theft is rife on the Internet. As long as the acuser has ‘reasonable’ grounds the key phrase here is ‘readonable’

  • http://www.rainbow-photography.net Peter Neve

    As a photographer I take images of people which I then display under secured access so they can see the images and order, within 2 days of uploading I can guarantee that images appear on FB after asking my clients to ask my permission first, I then send a email to the client to remove them and then I inform FB and yet I have to hear back from FB about ANY of the complaints of copyright theft I have put forward. So it must be I am to small to be bothered about and I know I cannot sue FB for allowing it to carry on.

  • Bill

    Neither Google nor FB give a crap about what happens to you or whether you are innocent. They absolutely (IMHO) do not practice due diligence before yanking you.

    With Google, it’s been open season for years for complaints just to get you pulled. Have been through it with clients who have done nothing except put up good sites being banned by a complaint issued for no just cause, just to hurt them. It’s part of the blackhat playbook. The chapter right after hire cheap third/fourth world labor to kill your PPC budget with click fraud.

    Bottom line… No one should have this kind of power over your livelihood without due process. Even if it is their site.

  • http://bloketoys.co.uk/ Mens Sex Toys

    Serves people right.
    Why the hell are people investing so much time and effort in pages and sites that are at the mercy of companies like Google and Facebook?

    If you want longevity and security, buy your own domain, whack WordPress on it and get going. At least it is under YOUR control, and not at the mercy of some Facebook hack who doesn’t know what they are destroying. It means nothing to them, so why should they think twice about taking it down?

    These people need to grow up and stop thinking everything is free. Facebook is a business providing a free service in exchange for having access to your data and gaining revenue from advertising. They are not a public service!

    • http://www.schnauzerlover.com Katherine Reed

      “in exchange for” = not free!

  • Adsense Publisher

    Google is not much better. If you go on the Adsense help forum a few publishers are getting DMCA notices and are immediately taking down the copyrighted content and Google is still banning a few of those publishers from Adsense. In a few of those cases the publishers discovered that the DMCA claim was not valid and yet Google still banned them after they took down the content within a day or two of the notice and discovered many days later that the claim was not valid. So why after removing the content at the request of Google does the publisher get banned, and why doesn’t Google investigate the claim and discover that it’s not valid?

  • http://www.swabeyklein.com Simone

    OK, I work in fashion – essentially ladies underwear, ok so fb sees this as risque all too often! I have friends and clients that perform burlesque – their pictures are seen in local newspapers. fb declares them obscene. Performers have their pages taken down regularly it has become a major joke to all…

    There are some super sleazy groups and porno pictures but they stay? mmm

    I have had this happen several times – my personal page has had someone other than myself post an obscene picture .. I was not on fb for about a week and by the time I checked in the page was gone. Never to be reconstructed – with almost 5000 friends…

    When we create work pages we actually have more than one, we know one will disappear. We take info off to Aweber’s autoresponder, and keep in contact with our clients and customers, so when we have to restart we can do so quickly…

    It also makes me think 500 million may include many ‘not real’ persons! So maybe the numbers are inflated!

    Small companies and individuals are being targeted – I wont put my mobile number on my page – I know they want to verify through this but I am not giving that up! I did on one of my earlier pages and was inundated by crank callers…

    So be nervous on fb. It has some obvious pluses but the downsides are huge!

    Simone Swabey
    New York, NY

  • Don

    Facebook have just handed the scum of the web yet another tool to abuse their competitors or those they don’t like for any reason.

    I have personally been the recipient of similar attacks by a competitor who had happily lied and laid false complaints all over the place in an attempt to shut my business down.
    This idea that anyone who complains and fills in a legal form must be telling the truth is absolute stupidity.

    Definitely follow up complaints but at least give those complained against a fair chance to defend themselves.

  • Michael K

    Oh please, Facebook has been pulling this kind of stuff for ages. I run gay porn sites, and I know most you could care less about our problems because most of the rest of the world thinks we’re all scammers and spammers, but we’re not.

    When I set up a G-rated fan page for my porn site things went fine for a couple of weeks. I posted mainly face shots of the guys on my site and posted bio type info about them. One day I put up a picture of a bare-chested man and he was touching his nipples. My site was deleted within about 48 hours of that event.

    Meanwhile, my niece and her friends post at length about getting high and that’s okay.

    I don’t get Facebook.

  • Amber

    It amazes me that all it takes is a single complaint for Facebook to disable a page without warning, yet continuted complaints about real issues of copyright infringement by photographers are ignored.

    I think it appaling that facebook wants to make money off copyright infringement of our images and I also think less reputable people will declare open season on the people and companies they don’t like and ruin what facebook has created.

    I used to think facebook was great but they have also ruined businesses ability to contact people by stuffing all messages by businesses into the ‘other’ folder. I think facebook is a dying breed.

    I’m actively looking for a new platform for my business. Facebook has proven they don’t honestly care about their users rights.

  • JamesGE

    What would you expect of a company run by a nerdy teenager who does not relate well to others, and whose primary driving force is greed? While it is raking in gazillions, it hardly demonstrates grown-up and honorable ethics and practices.

  • Paul G

    We are an FB start up that spent tens of thousands building and marketing an app that was used for garnering FB likes as a launch platform of early adopter users. We had an unverified IP complaint from an exemployee who also took our .com domain and cybersquatter on it (it forwards to his competitor website) his complaint was vague just quoting that we stole his IPR. Facebook disabled our app without considering our view and the fact that we have all documentation proving we are rightful owners of our IP. I used contacts to have meetings and conversations with several people in Facebook thinking that right minded commercial people could over rule the policy dept. But to no avail. What is worse is that Facebook only say that we should follow legal council to get the complainant to retract the complaint. This costs £50k or more to pursue. In the meantime the complainant refuses to acknowledge legal letters and our direct emails asking for clarification on the infringing material, but only get ignored. Facebook have been cc’d into all correspondence and don’t care at all, FB say they don’t get involved in third party disputes yet they take the word of the complainant and act as judge and jury and turn us off. What is infuriating is that mr Zuck. Goes onto every interview and evangelises the facebook platform as a place for entrepreneurs to build businesses. This is what we are trying to do and now we wish we hadn’t because it is so volitile. There internal departments to not communicate with each other and the policy dept only seems to go for the soft targets. The amount of dodgy pages on FB is crazy, even hate pages against it’s founder go untouched. Facebook needs to have a serious review of their policy.

  • Dennis Galayda

    I don’t think anyone needs reminded of this, but Facebook is a free service, basically we post on Facebook at our own risk. If Facebook “responds” to anything it will be because of its “sensitivities” to its “sponsers” or the brands that pay for advertising in the Facebook space, while casting the illusion that they are concerned with the end-user. After all, Facebook is corporate behemoth now, and will conduct itself as such. Anyone thinking any different is kidding themselves.

  • http://www.users.adam.com.au/brianbrain Brian Warner

    Well what do you expect from the Americans,Australians governments are are the same.
    Out the window has gone “innocent till proven guilty” some one points a finger and th is it your guilty.People are mad but it will all change soon the revolution is on the way ….

  • http://www.imjustsharing.com Mitch Mitchell

    Actually, though I’m not crazy about the “guilty before proven innocent” direction they’ve taken, at least they will review and get back to the owners, unlike Google, who will ban you, not tell you why, and never reinstate you again. That at least is something that makes them a little better than the norm.

  • http://www.adimagephotos.com John

    Yes they should do more. It’s the same with Google and the way Google cancels your Adsense account without explaination. Natural justice demands that you face your accusor and have the right of reply, and that the judge is not your accusor. Another issue with many of these large corporations is that won’t provide you with a means to email them, yet they send you emails. It’s just plain ill mannered and rude to send emails that can’t be replied to.

  • http://www.Globalcrossroadscapital.com Jeffrey Allen

    Yes. Anyone can run at the mouth with accusations. But that doesn’t make it so. Remember, the burden of proof is always on the accuser.

  • http://www.astro-holidays.com PaulDavis

    I admit I complained a while back about one face book page, it claimed to be one of our Greek landlords (who has no computer skills, or even a computer, her daughter found the page) and used an image from my web site. The page was a pack of lies put up by a nasty and vindictive competitor. I knew the scurrilous individual who was responsible and the page was immediately taken down and their false account deleted. The landlord (a lady) was very upset over the incident and felt very threatened by the whole episode.

    Since then I have also deleted my face book account (in protest) and would never advocate anyone to use the facilities they offer until they clean up their act and use a system of verification of accounts, plus do not allow multiple identities.

    As a result I endorse a “shoot first” and ask questions later attitude. Not a fan of twitter either for the same reasons. I also question any commercial benefit of being on this form of media. Strikes me it is a bunch of people just desperate to “collect” so called friends. In a conversation last night with a Greek he was laughing because he put up a face book page and 715 people wanted to be his “friend” All he wanted to know was “Why? I don’t know these people, you think they lend me some money?”

  • pat

    This is just typical of a FaceLess organisation that thinks it rules the world. They should remember that we managed before without them and we don’t need them quite as much as they like to think! I’ll use it while it’s there but if they ceased operating tomorrow it wouldn’t make any difference to me whatsoever.

  • http://www.shapirit.biz טכנאי מחשבים, תחזוקת מחשבים שוטפת ותחזוקה מונעת

    Almost the same post as http://www.webpronews.com/man-sues-facebook-to-prove-need-for-customer-support-2011-04#comment-84572 and my answer is the same as there:
    ” It is not new to me that social networks are not really “social”, I have a problem with “sitetalk” wrote 3 emails to them and still no response, FB I left long ago when I wanted to play one of their aps and their policy demand that I should let them use any online and offline private info.
    I’am a computer savvy for about 28 years and I know that there are things that it would be better to be left alone, one of them is social networks.

    We need to show that WE have power over them and make the “no social network” day once a month, the 15th, just one NSN day a month for yourself ”


  • http://www.thetrureal.com thetrureal

    Facebook should be doing more to investigate and have proof! But they don’t care about you because they know you will create another page/account. The only time Facebook will actually do anything is when it affects them such as in legal action “massive money losing” or if they start to lose members and revenue, until then, why would they care?

  • http://theblogginguniverse.com/blog Venkatesh Iyer

    Obviously Facebook should do some detailed investigation before acting on complaints. A lot of complaints are fake or arise from vested interests. I would be stunned if my page was taken down without so much as a chance to address a complaint.

  • http://www.facebook.com ahmed

    شكررررررررررررررررررا جدا

  • Karen Christine

    Absolutely! Given the world of polarity that we live in and it’s so many ulterior motives I feel that in the future when FaceBook is faced with such a problem they should simply put themselves in the accused shoes before taking action this way they would be doing unto others as they would have done for themselves. If everybody was to live by this golden rule alone we would all be living in a much better world!

  • http://Www.froggystyle.biz Froggystyle

    That’s a fact, but Facebook is still better than microsoft and google. Google closed my adwords account because I was advertising a software on a 3rd party website. The soft is an open license that has been rebranded and remarked at a price (the open source license is available for free, just like open office and Microsoft office). The open source software people are aware of that and say it’s legal, although not 100% ethical. Fine. Instead of not approving the ad, adwords, they did approve it, and then blocked the account permanently. In order to unblock my account, they requested that I contact the website I was promoting (through an affiliate programme) and ask them to comply with adwords rules and regulations! Hard to believe, but I kept all emails to show to anyone willing to have a jAw dropping experience. Gladly I was redirecting to the site through a domain name I bought. I redirected it to the open source website after that, telling them that I managed to convinced the people of the paid software to change their whole content. Adwords told me they would check and come back to me after 3 working days. 8 days later I follow up, and they answer that theyr specialists have to deal with too many requests and that there is some delays… Surprised? They handled this thenmost unprofessional manner you could imagine. The whole thing is a complete nonsense. I had an issue with Facebook but nothing to compare with google. And a similar story happened with Microsoft ad centre. But that wil be for another comment.

    And worse thing is there is absolutely no recourse. Unless you know of any? Private email of the CEO of google? As if he would care really…

  • http://www.messageamp.com/ Dom Manganelli

    Facebook is such a rich pasture of wealth right now as is the entire social media market. Problem with Facebook is, its immaturity. Facebook although created in 2004 didn’t really gain worldwide popularity until the last 2.3 to 3 years. This is still a relatively new platform.

    They still are working out the bugs that is caused by Facebooks impromptu popularity. Facebook shows its immaturity in its lack of any sort of human interaction at all. A little bit of contact will go along ways in the SOCIAL media market..People love social media because they get to interact with…wait for it…People.

    I wouldn’t not utilize Facebook because of a few glitches..furthermore no company should put its entire fate on its Facebook page. Nothing good can come from..as the old adage says, putting all of one’s eggs in one’s basket…and you get what you pay for..Facebook is free folks!


  • http://www.HomeTips4Women.com tinagleisner

    I expect we’re going to see more copyright infringement challenges online and it’s probably overdue as there aren’t enough rules or cases to guide publishers. My franchisor recently told me I had to give up my 8 year old domain because I didn’t have permission any longer to use it?

    Fascinating how the franchisor is bullying it’s own branded businesses but not going after the many other websites using their brand name. Advice is sorely needed for this situation and others like it.

  • Paula

    I’m new to the Internet business and this frightens me!
    After reading trough lots of comments I will take my precautions and
    avoid to put all my cards on FB and Google!

  • kate hall

    On another note why do facebook also allow so many fake pages I know of friends of mine who have had pages set up in there name and even therre photo but noyhing can be done because when you repot it and it says who is being faked or something like that you put in the name and because it is the same name they just ask over again they do not even take down naked pictures as my child of 15 showed me one so I agree that no one should be called a smammer without proving it and I also get a list of people they give me to be friends that I do not know
    I am from Scotland and we wre putting a Law through euorpe just now to stop cyber stalking and make people do something about all the email and nework providers do something. we are Action Scotland Against Stalking we are on facebook. Kate Good luck

  • Tom Wakefield

    Hello, I’m glad WebProNews has reported on this. I run a Dodgeball League in Dallas. I had fired a guy from the league from taking money from admissions. He set up a fake Dallas Dodgeball Facebook page, used MY copyrighted content and photos then reported my site as copyright infringement… and Facebook didn’t even check any facts on the case and disabled my page. Unbelievable. Apparently, just about anyone can report just about any Facebook group or fan page and have it disabled. This has happened several times, and though I have replied back with detailed information it’s like Facebook has almost the entire reporting system automated. This is a major flaw in Facebook’s overall system. I have detailed some of my troubles at http://www.dallasdodgeball.com/dodgeball-scam-alert1.htm

  • http://FBtookmypagesdowntoo. HeinRich@BelleModels.biz

    For no reason I could imagine.

    Read the full story here:

  • http://www.schnauzerlover.com Katherine Reed

    For some reason, our Facebook page was suddenly gone. We had several hundred followers, daily updates and daily likes/shares.

    After sending an email to the supposed appropriate department three weeks ago, we have still yet to even get a response that they even received our inquiry.

    When revisiting the page, it said that a new inquiry would send us to the back of the line.

    What do I do?

  • http://www.feelfree.co Guest

    You guys better switch over to FeelFree, and make this world a better place again.

  • http://www.feelfree.co Guest

    Since FeelFree.co is the future, Facebook is the past.

  • http://www.capturingmoments.com Jaimee Hubert

    Facebook has become a great tool for my business as a professional photographer. My blog and site get seen by thousands of extra people a month through sites life Facebook & Twitter mainly. I see a lot of people saying using Social Media is stupid, however if you are not using a free resource even if it is a rage or they have control, then I believe you are missing out on more potential. It should not be your only tool, but it is a great addition to getting your business seen more. Most recently, Facebook has threatened to close my account a few times and have blocked me from adding friends for 30 days. I tried using there friend finder via my email address and every time I did FB said I was adding too many people at once and they consider it spam. So, yes, I am very concerned that for any reason Facebook could shut me down and I could loose my network I have built of thousands of people. How is adding friends from my industry and adding friends from my own email address considered spam? Facebook definitely needs to do more before shutting down an account and considering things spam that are not. VERY CONCERNED about this. However, your business is your responsibility and a good motto is to never put all your eggs in one basket.

  • http://www.jiletlitelfiyati.com Jack Fisher

    Policing without court order is like 1930 Germany with SS policing the country .

  • http://zerofrictionmarketingpro.com Chad Wilgus

    Google Chrome is the browser to be using, send the usage statistics back to fix bugs. It is the best solution for all users.


  • http://www.wygk.com Bob Nicholson

    Businesses like FaceBook are very, very thin margin. It takes money to process DMCA takedown requests, and there can be heavy legal and financial consequences if a company does NOT comply with a valid request… to it’s more cost effective to simply take down the material.

    If you don’t like the policies, don’t use FaceBook. Or, start your own service, and spend time investigating every claim. I’m sure people would be happy to pay membership fees so you can handle the additional overhead. *L*

  • http://www.inkaquest.com/ Carmen Lozano

    Facebook’s statement on the page takedown matter, as obtained by Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb goes like this:

  • Christine

    I was just banned tonight b/c of SPAMMING and POSTING IRRELEVANT COMMENTS per facebook. I have recently joined a CLOSED like page (invite only) where we were posting youtube videos and pictures from the 70s and 80s. Facebook seeing a SPIKE in my postings, disabled my account from posting to LIKE pages for 15 days. I cannot plead my case because facebook doesn’t have anyone to contact for help. If you go to their forums TONS of people are getting their accounts suspended for the same types of things (Including LIKING their birthday wishes on their walls). Is this the way a legit business should be run and how they should treat their customers?

  • josh

    facebook should get taken down! it supports bullying! i have seen pages that allows bullying and is complelely fine with it. i have reported pages but facebook will not take them down! one of my friends have deleted her account because she was getting bullied and a certain page was passing around info about her, she was loosing friends and recieving rude messages and getting tons of friend request because that page posted a link to her fb. back to myspace!!

  • Carlton

    I simply wished everybody in my friends list a Merry Christmas. That was enough to be blocked on Christmas Day. I’m called by friends and inform that I’m a spammer. Facebook said they sent an email but I can’t find it anywhere. Facebook has become all about money and nothing about the customers rights. Now who’s really the abusive one?

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