Violating the Facebook Terms of Service Could Hurt Your Meeting or Event

Are you one of those organizations that violates the Facebook terms of service and if you are violating these rules, are you exposing your fans/followers to risk because you cannot be bothered to do things the right way?

You might be and not even know it.

One of the biggest mistakes made by amateurs on Facebook is the type of page they set up for their meeting, conference or event so now is the time to ask yourself a question.  Did you choose a profile that requires someone to “friend” you or did you choose a “page” that requires someone to like you?

The answer might be the difference between success and failure on Facebook and could actually lead to you getting your sorry ass kicked off Facebook for violating the terms of service or even worse in a perfect storm of unfortunate incidents.

In short, the terms of service for Facebook state that profile pages are for actual people, pages are for entities including companies, celebrities, things and yes, your event.

Celebrities get to have both a profile and a page because they straddle the line between the two; they are a person when they interact with their real world friends and an entity when they interact with their fans. I am sure that most celebrities want their private lives separate from their public lives (spank you very much Charlie Sheen) and having two different types of pages allows them to do this.

One point that I do not see mentioned (ever) is that by choosing the rookie way and setting up your conference or event as a profile and having it act like a person, where people have to friend you and you have to approve them, you are actually exposing your shiny new “friends” to real world risk. Risk of unwanted friend requests, risk of embarrassment and perhaps, even risk of life and limb in some extreme instances.

How can your choice of page vs profile lead to someone’s risk?

It all depends on their security settings and how they have opted to interact with the world. The two scenarios that I am about to paint are extreme and they are meant to be, they are meant to dramatically show one of the reasons why you should follow the terms of service as they are outlined and not be a Facebook fail.

Let’s say that “Rebecca” used to have a stalker during her college years and now she thinks that period of her life is long in the dust bin of history.  Still a little leery of this type of thing, she takes precautions to limit what people can see about her online by choosing that only friends and friends of friends can see her pictures and comments that she posts. She has hidden other info because she thinks that this is safe.

Unbeknownst to her, asshat stalker dude is still out there looking for her, he thinks that he knows where she is, but cannot be sure. He knows her profession because he knows what her major was and he starts looking at the industry events that she might attend and BAM, he friends your event, you accept the friend request and now he can see her pictures and can confirm that this is his lost victim and now Rebecca  is squarely back in his sights….. And you are to blame.

He can also gather where she is at by looking at comments she has left around those darn internets and so the hunt begins again and her life will once again be turned upside down because you were too lazy to learn how to set up a page instead of a profile.

Now, I know that this is a stretch and even crazy and there are certainly more ways than just your idiocy that could guide Mr. Asspants back to Rebecca. She may already have friends that accept friend requests from every moron that ask, she may have her security settings too low, she may post information about herself online that leave a full blown road map with big bright red arrows right to her front door…. A million different scenarios play out like this every day online and most of them share similarities but are not exactly the same…. Again, this is meant to be extreme.

This could also play out in a less dramatic but no less stupid ways and is probably more realistic because I know this happens.

Rebecca may not have an ex stalker but could now be the CEO of a big company.She is riding high, kicking butt and taking names. The company is doing great, she is a respected community leader and things can only go up from here.

She has her same security settings that say “friends of friends” may see her pictures….she also has a setting that lets friends of friends see pictures she is tagged in. Now, enter the twilight zone.

She forgets this security setting one day and posts college pictures of herself doing Beer Bongs and Body Shots of Tequila in awesome Mexico!Her college roommate, in the spirit of fun, posts compromising pictures of Rebecca that while actually harmless, look pretty bad and her friend tags her in these pictures. They spend one whole night talking on the phone, laughing and drinking margs, walking down memory lane. Tomorrow starts with a hangover and emails that have big red exclamation points next to each one. oops

On any given day, friends of friends wouldn’t care to even look at the images, but now, because she friended your event, her friends of friends are the ENTIRE industry she belongs to and Rebecca is not only CEO of the largest company in this industry, she is also the enemy of every competitor and now they are ALL seeing the pictures of Rebecca on that wicked 1991 trip to Cabo where she had one of the best times of her life. It was fun and she wanted to share, but she did not want the PTA, the Board of said company or the dude in the mail room to relive it with her.

Now, she is pissed, she is mad and she wants a head on a pike. YOU violated the Terms of Service that caused this whole mess and she wants legal remedies baby and she is coming after your organization. She will probably not win because there are arguments that could be made either way and this is a gray area, but the damage will be done to your event because it ended up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and this will be a precedent setting case.

I hate to tell you, but she will not be the one on the unemployment line when this is over, you will be. Even if she gets canned, she is getting a Golden Parachute that is worth somewhere north of 22 million dollars so she might be going back to Cabo in style while you are scrounging for change in your couch cushions so you can buy a Cup-O-Dunkin.
Again, these examples are probably WAY OUT THERE, but that is not the point. The point is, why are you violating the Facebook terms of service and why are you exposing yourself to this type of issue when you don’t have to, all you have to do is follow the rules.

Luckily, Facebook has just introduced a way to change a Profile to a Page. It would be my educated opinion that this is their way of giving an escape pod to entities before they go on a purge, so be forewarned, I am telling you that your profile page might be on its last legs already. You can find out how to do it here.

Now go and fix your shit before you do any real world damage that you cannot dig yourself out of because Facebook is still one of the best marketing and relationship building tools for meeting and event marketers.

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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