Don’t Trust Facebook With Your Business

I’ve always been paranoid about allowing other people to have any level of control over my business and today I got another lesson in why that’s a good policy.

For about 7 years I’ve run a Facebook group called “Cigars Australia Forum”. It was originally a standalone forum that I ran back when I was in the cigar business. Then, when the software behind the forum became too clumsy, I moved it over to Facebook. Just a bunch of 1000 (mostly) guys harmlessly comparing notes on cigars. Occasionally it got a little rowdy and I had to tell them to be nice. One a rare occasion I had to block a couple of people who were outright rude and nasty.

Yesterday, I got a message from Facebook that something about the group contravened their “community standards” – no details, just “your group has been disabled until you bring it into line with our standards”. This, of course, is coming from the company that let people like Cambridge Analytica have access to the personal data of millions of people. But I digress.

So I looked through their “community standards” page, couldn’t see anything that would my group would contravene, so I asked them to review the group and their decision.

Today I got a second notification from Facebook that the group, which had over 1000 members, has been permanently deleted. No explanation apart from “community standards”. Nobody to talk to. No way to protest or get clarification.

Now, luckily, I don’t care. This group had nothing to do with any business of mine or revenue source. I maintained it just as a service to Australia’s diminishing cigar appreciation community. But imagine if it was something important to my business or my brand and Facebook just decided to delete it? It could be devastating.

So that is why you should never trust Facebook, or Instagram (also part of Facebook) or Google or eBay or PayPal or Patreon or any other service provider with running the delivery platform for your business. If you can run it yourself, do it. If you can’t, make sure you have a backup plan if the service provider decides to pull the pin on you.

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