Why entrepreneurs can’t trust Facebook

I believe that Facebook is no longer a platform that we, as entrepreneurs can trust, and by the end of this story, you will as well.

“It looks like someone may have accessed your Facebook account,” was how the message started that I got earlier this week.

At the time I was at an event in Ottawa, which happens to be in a different country from the one in which I normally reside.

I went through all the steps they advised, and, while I’d locked out the hacker, I was locked out as well. No big deal. I’ll deal with it when I get home.

You see, I’d done everything I was supposed to. Two factor authentication and all the rest. That’s the account was never successfully hacked.

But Facebook’s security is flawed in that your account is suspended and hidden in the event of an attack, and by simply attempting to log into your account a few times every day will keep is locked.

This means that I could take you off Facebook indefinitely by “attacking” your account, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Don’t worry. It’s not as bad as all that. It’s much, much worse.

When I returned from Ottawa, the hackers had ceased their attack, and I was able to get back in. I made a post explaining where I had been (because there is no notification to your audience why you completely vanished.)

This morning, I went to log in again.

I was informed that my account had been “suspended for violating community standards.” It took a number of minutes to discover that the rule I had violated was “inciting violence and supporting terrorism.”

I’m not often in the habit of inciting violence or supporting terrorism. I don’t even joke about that sort of thing on social media.

But here’s what I think happened. The hackers went through my posts and reported many of them for this offense. Since Facebook community standards are automated, it suspends first and asks questions later.

Oh, did I say they ask questions?

That’s right. They don’t ask any questions at all. They review your account and they summarily render a decision.

If they decide the allegations are valid, then my account, which I have held in good standing for 16 years, will be closed permanently.

Any groups that I am the only admin to will be uncontrolled. Any pages that I’m the only admin of will be inaccessible and frozen in time forever.

Am I upset about this?

Actually, no. Because I’ve learned not to get upset about anything. Things like this happen because they are meant to happen. If I am meant to be off Facebook, then so shall it be.

But I suspect that for most of you, even the phrase “violates community standards” gives you anxiety because you know it would be catastrophic if you lost access to Facebook.

For me, this forced me to do an urgent evaluation of how I communicate with individuals and communities. There are some people who this will render me out of touch with completely as I have no other way to reach them, but most of my community I am still able to reach.

I had been relying on Messenger as a go to communications platform. I knew it was a bad idea, but it was so convenient. (Messenger just says “message cannot be delivered” and does not say why when people try to message me.)

The most important lesson for you, as you read this, if you are an entrepreneur, is that you are able to read this.

Because I do not count on Facebook as my sole communications platform, or even as a vital platform, I am still able to communicate.

An email list is the one of the only communications platforms that you own. What happened to me can happen to you on any social media platform (although Facebook and Instagram are much worse than most.) Even if you have your own like Mighty Networks or Slack, it’s still rented land.

Heck, even your email provider could go down. Do you have backups of the actual list somewhere other than your CRM system? 

I encourage you to consider how you are connected to your community, your partners, and even your friends.

Consider each platform and evaluate what it would mean if you permanently and without warning lost access to that platform.

Are the changes you can make that would reduce the impact?

Get more people to your email list? Diversify onto more platforms? Collect phone numbers to text?

The entire purpose of this message, besides letting you know why you may not see on Facebook for a while (or ever again), is to encourage you to consider your communication strategy and be prepared for the unexpected.

-Michael Whitehouse
The Summit Guy

P.S. As I write this, I think that it might be worth putting together a workshop on this topic of communications resiliency. If that would be of interest to you, please reply and let me know.

Want to be in that email list, so I you can stay connected? Hop on in…
(Of course, if you fill this out, you’ll be added to a list, and that list could be considered marketed by various paternalistic governments. You have been warned, I mean notified.)

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