Nick O'Neill over at AllFacebook posted this morning about the latest in unofficial public profile pulls: the fan-made page for Christiano Ronaldo, which was disabled after acquiring more than 2.85 million fans. Though Facebook did not give any official explanation, we'd agree with Nick's suggestion that this was most likely as a result of Facebook's policy regarding Public Profiles which prohibits the creation of such unofficial pages not associated with or administered by an appropriate brand representative. The owner of the now-disabled Public Profile received a letter from a representative at Ronaldo's agency, but the letter doesn't necessarily declare the page to be of major concern for them or that it should be removed.
This isn't the first major unofficial fan page that Facebook has removed, but it was a pretty popular one. What confuses me the most is that this page was removed outright instead of taken over by the appropriate agency when they clearly knew of the page's existence beforehand. It doesn't even sound like the agency requested administrative rights, but it seems silly to me to let more than 2.85 million fans go to waste. My favorite example of a popular fan-made Public Profile that was properly transitioned to the brand's rightful owners is of course the Coca-Cola page, administrated by both representatives of Coca-Cola and the page's original fan owners.
The more I read stories about unofficial pages that have been disabled, the more I wonder about what Facebook's selection process. While Facebook's terms are clear, there are still untold numbers of unofficial pages out there in addition to non-branded pages such as those for a generic good (like "bagels" or "movies") or even "sleeping" (of which about 15 of my friends became fans over the weekend). So what's the actual criteria for deletion? Is it even worth it after a certain point (ex: when a page has amassed millions of friends without causing offense or damaging the brand in any way)? Right now anybody can create a fan page, so maybe the answer is just to restrict access to the option entirely. Facebook's current verification process is no more than a check box that promises that the creator has every right to create the page, but what if Facebook asked for a valid work e-mail address or phone number and took a day or so to verify the users' authenticity? While Facebook may be monitoring these pages to an extent, it's clear that users are creating and building them faster than Facebook can catch them and will either have to resort to stricter requirements for creating a page or opening up the Public Profile platform entirely.
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