Houston Tribute Bands

Will Facebook Ever Be Accountable To Small Business Advertisers (Like Bands?)

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Facebook made nearly $70 billion dollars in advertising in 2019, the majority of that coming from small and medium-sized businesses. (1) Like many of our member bands, Houston Tribute Bands spends personal funds to advertise Houston’s bands to a portion of Facebook’s estimated 2.6 BILLION users. As a paying customer who has spent not only money, but hundreds of hours diligently building our fan base from under 1,000 in 2019 to nearly 3,400 today, we expected a quick and competent response when we were suddenly cut off from our fans (customers) with no explanation.

It all started with an email. While working on the upcoming weekend’s video ad, one of our admins received an email that she had been removed as an administrator by “1 2”. She reached out immediately to her two fellow administrators to see if they had received a similar email. They hadn’t, but they both had also been removed as administrators, leaving Houston Tribute Band’s Facebook page orphaned.

After spending a couple of hours trying to find the right place to submit a support ticket and coming up empty (go ahead – try to find it), our admin finally settled on ‘reporting’ HTB for an IP issue, and explained the issue in the comments. A day later, she received an email letting her know that she had submitted her issue to the wrong place, but that it was being forwarded to the proper agency and that she should check her previously unheard-of support inbox for updates. Shortly thereafter, she received the first of six identical responses telling her to have another administrator add her back to the account, and that they were closing the ticket.  

Yeah, that didn’t fly for her either. After re-opening the ticket, she nicely explained the problem in detail (again) and reiterated that there were no remaining admins because of Facebook’s actions. Several hours later, she received back the exact same response

Over the next few days, the process was repeated three more times, with our admin receiving the very same response each time. Finally, a light in the darkness! After four identical form letters, the fifth response was a request for a detailed written and signed account of the issue, along with all of the supporting documentation, including a copy of our admin’s personal driver’s license. She dutifully assembled the requested information and sent it over in a four-page PDF file, only to receive the same form letter that she had received four times prior!

We are now on round 8 of what we lovingly call the “hostage negotiations.” We have been unable to promote our bands this weekend, and are worried that we will miss this weekend as well, when we finally have multiple bands playing again after Covid. It’s obvious our voice isn’t enough. That’s why we’re asking you – the musicians, the fans, and their friends and families, to help us. 

We’re asking you to copy and paste the letter below into a Facebook post , tag @facebookbusiness, and use the hashtag #FREEHTB. We’re hoping that if enough people do this, Facebook will pay attention and let us get back to telling Houston about all the great live music we have coming up!

Help HTB By Creating A FB Post!

  1. Copy and paste our letter into a Facebook post from your account.
  2. Tag @facebookbusiness
  3. Add the hashtag #FREEHTB! Encourage your friends to do the same!
Hi Everyone,

We’re HTB, a volunteer organization that works to promote Houston’s tribute and live music scene at no cost to the artists or venues. We do a lot of “behind the scenes” work to connect bands and venues, and we’re proud that we’ve facilitated many successful gigs, especially in the time of Covid when live music and good times are hard to come by.

We have been locked out of our FB page for 5 days now, not for anything we did, but for what seems to be a glitch on FB’s end. We understand - mistakes happen. We submitted a ticket within minutes of getting the notice that all three of our admins had been removed; we are currently on the 8th round of “communication” with their team, which appears to be largely automated. They’ve closed the ticket eight times without even attempting to resolve the problem; we’ve re-opened it eight times because that’s not an acceptable response when 130 bands are depending on you. (See the entire, updated exchange here: )

Ironically, we have first-hand experience working with bands that were locked out of their FB pages because of an error on FB’s part. They found out quickly that business page users have absolutely no recourse, and no way to reach the thousands of people in their FB fanbase that they spent years building, not to mention all the money on FB ads. With no substantive assistance coming from FB over a period of months, their only option was to walk away and start over. That’s no “option”!

This is where you come in. We are hosting a virtual protest. It’s socially-distanced, doesn’t involve rioting, and doesn’t require a donation. All that it requires is to copy and paste this into a post, add the hashtag #FREEHTB, and tag Facebook for Business. We are hoping that if enough people do this, our collective voices will be heard. Facebook generated nearly $70 billion (1) last year from businesses, and we deserve better than to have our customers held hostage, or worse, discarded!

Joe, Danielle, & Brooke
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