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The Cool Hunter has described the recent unannounced disablement of their fan page as “a huge issue and potentially fatal to businesses”. As explained by The Cool Hunter, due to this loss that occurred without warning, both valuable content and 788,000 design fans have vanished. These are resources that undoubtedly take time to build up, making it a significant and problematic situation for the creative industry. The Cool Hunter was set up by Bill Tikos in 2004.

A company that focuses on “creativity in all of its modern manifestations”, it is the world’s most read culture and design site. To a business such as this Facebook is an interactive tool that develops relationships with users. Social media outlets are crucial to sites like The Cool Hunter, underlining the extent of their complaint.

It can be argued that if the loss of Facebook happens to such a high profile site as The Cool Hunter there are serious implications for other design sites. Furthermore, creative companies surely need to be equipped with the knowledge to prevent this happening to them. Overall, the consequences are potentially disastrous for design companies in general.

We spoke to Bill Tikos in order to gain a more detailed insight. Tikos explains that he waited two months before publishing the story as he had “basically exhausted all avenues and got nowhere”. Here is the designer’s account of what happened;

“The last image they removed had a full credit of the photographer yet they still removed it and a few days later they disabled my account – I’ve spoken to over a dozen people at FB around the globe – some more helpful than others but all of them came back with the exact same response – “this user has been disabled for repeated IP infringement” and then that was it – when I responded with – “which image, who complained” not one of them returned my emails – the conversation ended no matter how many emails I sent, they would not give me any answers and no way of fixing the issue – anyone with a Hotmail or Gmail account can complain to FB about IP infringement – the whole situation is beyond ridiculous especially that every FB user (1 billion of them) shares images they do not have the right to publish.”

Black Box Social Media claim that “Facebook has been known to shut down Fan Pages who are in violation of their terms of usage (and they may not even know it)”. In reference to this, PR Web cite the most common reasons for this happening as simple violations of The Terms of Service which it lists as;

• Timeline photo cover violations
• Voting violations
• Problems with Facebook Fan Page name
• Conflicts of trademark
• Promotional violation

However, The Cool Hunter argue that they have no idea which posts did infringe such rules. They refer to “only two infringements- two situations where FB closed our account, and we argue strongly that they were not infringements at all”. The risk highlighted here is the relationship between a business being unaware of what Facebook deems to be inappropriate and the chance that this termination could in theory happen repeatedly.

The-Cool-Hunter.jpgThe Cool Hunter screenshot
Photo credit www.thecoolhunter.co.uk

Black Box Social Media have created a report that details how to get your facebook fan page back if it was disabled. The Cool Hunter were also offered help by a Twitter contact and had their page reinstated. Yet, within 5 days it was closed again without prior warning.

The Huffington Post wrote an article entitled ‘Facebook closes pages because of false copyright infringement claims’ in which they acknowledge the same punishment experienced by The Cool Hunter. In the piece it is claimed that “Facebook has shut down at least a half-dozen legitimate Facebook pages due to what appears to be a dysfunctional copyright infringement claims system”.

In addition, Ars Technica documented a similar story to The Cool Hunter in April 2011, with a timeline of events illustrating it. This covers a statement from Facebook explaining that “no system is perfect and we are always striving to improve our practices”.

Moving forward it remains to be seen what can actually be done about this problem. Are businesses being penalised for their activities? As stated by The Cool Hunter, the bottom line is that they “need and want” their Facebook account back. How to go about this appears to be an entirely different matter. Facebook have confirmed to The Next Web that The Cool Hunter’s case is one of “permanent removal”. Hence, this story must serve as a warning for other graphic design businesses who rely so heavily on Facebook.

The question Tikos has is “why punish me when millions are sharing images- why even have a share button?”

Has this happened to you or anyone you know? Should Facebook be giving its members more information and help to prevent this from happening?

Read more about The Cool Hunter HERE.