Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

IS FACEBOOK TARGETING TRIBUTE BANDS FOR TAKEDOWN?

UPDATED 1/18/20: We’ve confirmed reports of a third tribute band Facebook page being taken down last week and receiving the same message as the other two. Like the others, they have appealed and have yet to receive event the courtesy of an autoreply.

One of Houston’s biggest and most successful tributes was notified Monday morning by a venue that their Facebook page – a page with over 30,000 likes that took years to build – was missing.  Soon after, they received a message from a fellow (out-of-state) tribute that their Facebook page was also missing. Both were eventually messaged by Facebook with the following: “Your page has been unpublished. It looks like recent activity on your Page doesn’t follow the Facebook Page Policies regarding impersonation and pretending to be an individual or business. Visit the Help Center for more info on why Pages may be unpublished and tips for managing your Page. If you think we made a mistake,  you can appeal and we’ll take another look.”

In the meantime, the Houston-based tribute reached out to us. Had any of our other tributes experienced something similar? Although we had no reports of any pages being taken down, we did share that a high number of posts by our tributes were displaying the “Sorry, this content isn’t available at the moment.” message instead. What was going on? Were tributes being targeted by Facebook? Given their recent crackdown on fake accounts, it was a possibility.

Something else that was troubling to us was Facebook’s inclusion of the phrase “pretending to be an individual or business” in their takedown message. Both of the artists in this case are what the law refers to as “tribute bands”, specialized cover bands that use costumes, makeup, props, and stage effects to adopt the original artist’s persona, versus “reverence bands”, bands that perform the music of one band but don’t seek to emulate them. (It’s important to note that in real life, the terms are often flipped, with reverence bands being the ones that are more fanatical about detail.)

Because a large number of Houston’s tributes are in fact tributes as the law defines them, we were understandably concerned. Removing a tribute from Facebook for impersonation could have a chilling effect on our local music scene and do irreparable harm to our tribute and reverence bands. After all, if you’re not on Facebook, you might as well not exist.

As of this writing, both tributes have appealed to Facebook by clicking the Appeal button, and are now waiting. Because the rules surrounding Facebook takedowns are so opaque, and the appeals process even more so, there’s every possibility that these tributes won’t be able to navigate it due to its labyrinthine nature. Losing a page with 30,000 likes would be bad enough, but it gets worse; Facebook has a specific rule that one can’t create a new page to replace one that was taken down. That would mean that our tribute was off of Facebook permanently.

We don’t know what life as a tribute, or even an original band, with no Facebook looks like, but we’re willing to bet it’s cold and lonely.

It’s entirely possible that this is much ado about nothing, and that the pages were taken down for something entirely un-related to them being tributes. Regardless, we think this is a good time to:

  1. Review your Facebook page and make sure it’s in compliance with all 6 billion of Facebook’s rules. (Links provided below.)
  2. SET UP AN EMAIL LIST!! We cannot stress this enough! If your page is taken down, how will you communicate with your fans? If you don’t have an email list, those are Facebook’s fans, NOT YOURS!

We will keep you updated as we receive updates. In the meantime, we’re hoping for the best but preparing for the worst (just in case.)

Facebook On Impersonation

The following is an excerpt from Facebook’s online policies. The source information can be found at the bottom of this excerpt.

2. Impersonation

Pages, Groups, and Events must not impersonate or falsely represent a brand, entity, or public figure. Where a Page, Group, or Event is being used to express support for or interest in a brand, entity, or public figure, it must make clear in the name or description that it is not an official representation.

Examples

  • Disclosing in the name or description that a Page, Group, or Event is a fan, parody, satire, criticism, or commentary entity
  • Disclosing in the name or description that a Page, Group, or Event is not affiliated with the official entity
  • Titling a Page, Group, or Event with a name that could be confused with a verified brand, place, organization, or public figure
  • Referring to a Page, Group, or Event as “official” if it is not the official entity or not affiliated with the official group

Green = Good, Red = Bad

Source: “Impersonation.” Pages, Groups and Events Policies, Facebook, www.facebook.com/policies/pages_groups_events/policies/impersonation. Accessed 15 Jan 2020

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