How Facebook's crack down could cut you off from your business

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There was a little bit of gossip that contains a valuable lesson for all businesses in the Courier Mail this week. In his City Beat column Anthony Marx wrote about Brisbane coffee brand Merlo Coffee's frustration at being locked out of their Facebook Page since December. 

Dubbed a "bizarre glitch", Merlo Coffee received an alert that it had to run its account as a page, not a personal profile. Subsequent attempts to log in were denied even after a new password was set up. 

For a business who has clearly invested a lot of time and effort to build up an audience with 11,169 likes and more than 10,000 followers this is a nightmare scenario. But it's one that will become more common as Facebook cracks down on fake Facebook Profiles. 

Why would Facebook lock me out of my business page? 

Stung by months of criticism following the 2016 US Election and the role troll farms, fake news and fake accounts played, Facebook is getting serious about security. For some time now they have been ramping up activity to cut out fake accounts - even if those accounts that are not being used to manipulate election results. 

For many business owners, this is bad news. This is because a lot of people set up a fake or secondary Facebook profile to keep their professional life separate from the private life. The fake profile has also been favoured by businesses, brands and politicians who didn't want staff to log in to their page from their own accounts. Instead of adding personal accounts as administrators, you simply use the one account to access the page.  

While the practice of setting up fake or secondary accounts has long been against Facebook's Terms of Use, in the past it was easy to get away with it. Now, not so much. If Facebook flags your account as a fake you may find you will be unable to add other admins to your business page or boost posts. In some cases, (and we suspect this is what happened to Merlo Coffee) Facebook will force you to convert your fake profile to a business page. This means you will lose access to your Ads Manager account and any advertising campaigns will be suspended. You won't be able to access this Ads Manager account again. 

Worse than that, is if Facebook completely locks down your account and you lose access to your business page.

 

I have a fake profile for my page. What do I do? 

The biggest risk is if you have a fake profile and it is the only way to access your Facebook Page. If you lose that profile you are locked out, and as Merlo's experience shows, multiple pleas to Facebook often fall on deaf ears. 

You need to immediately add a real Facebook profile as an Administrator to the page as soon as possible. If you have a personal Facebook account that you use, add this account to your page. If you do not have a personal Facebook account, you need to add someone you trust who does, ASAP. Seriously, stop reading and go and do that now! 

How to add an Admin
The easiest way to add an administrator is to be Facebook friends with them, or for them to like the page. 
You can then go to: Settings > Page Roles > Assign a new Page role  Then type in their name.

Facebook says you can type in an email, but this option is often glitchy and rarely works. After selecting their name, then change their role from the default, Editor to Admin. You can change it later but it is very important that you have at least one administrator for your page that is not a fake account.

Once their Facebook Profile is selected and they have Admin level, click Add. You will then be prompted to enter your password. This is the password for the profile you are logged in as to access the page. 

But I don’t want to be on Facebook as myself!  

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If you are one of those people who hate Facebook but need to access it for your business. I have some bad news. You need to have a legitimate Facebook account to run a Facebook Page.  You can't create a profile for a business, organisation or idea.

These days, Facebook asks everyone to use the same name for their Facebook Profile that they use in everyday life. If Facebook flags your account for having a fake name, you may be required to provide official ID to confirm your name. You may also be required to add a phone number to confirm your account and a profile photo. 

If you need to add staff to your page but want more control over their access, or you need to access to multiple pages, you should consider using Facebook's Business Manager instead.