Facebook Forces Fan Page Creators to Certify Brand Ties

Administrators of branded and unbranded Facebook Pages have recently received e-mail warnings from the company insisting they authenticate their association with a brand in three weeks. While it’s unclear how many Page creators have received the warning message, the e-mail has created a bit of a stir among industry players in recent days.

Phil Edwards, chief creative officer, Lonely CEO Media, said his company received an e-mail on Oct. 8 about an experimental Page and has since authenticated its Facebook account. The Page, called “Saving The Planet,” has more than 87,500 “fans.” Lonely CEO Media’s Pages with small numbers of “fans” did not prompt an e-mail from the social media site.

“I would think there is some kind of cut-off in terms of who received the e-mail versus who didn’t,” Edwards said.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook didn’t respond to an interview request yesterday. Meanwhile, the e-mail sent to Lonely CEO Media used the subject line, “Facebook Warning,” and the body copy states, “Our records indicate that you are currently the admin of a Facebook Page with a large number of fans. To ensure a positive user experience, we require admins of large Pages to confirm their affiliation with the brand, business, person, or entity that their Page represents.”

It then directs users to a link they could use to authenticate their Page.

The form requires administrators give the name of their page, the URL, and how they are related to the page (as a proprietor, as an employee, etc.). They can then choose three ways to finish the authentication: by adding a badge; by adding an e-mail address that is officially associated with the brand; or by adding another admin e-mail address that is associated with the company authorized to manage the brand.

John Keehler, director of interactive strategy, ClickHere, Inc., said that the language of the message implies that “fan” accounts that don’t include a brand-specific e-mail address were more likely to get the Facebook warning. He added that he hadn’t heard from any of his clients that they had received the warning e-mail.

“Agencies could also find themselves in a place where they are creating these Facebook pages and launching them on behalf of clients,” Keehler said. “So, I think it’s important that they have an official client representative that is also added as an admin just so it is clear that it’s official.”

And while Raz Schionning, Web director, American Apparel, said his company hadn’t received the Facebook e-mail, he commented that it had created “a bit of a kerfuffle” in the interactive world. And, Schionning characterized what the social media site is doing as a good thing for the industry.

“There are tons of imposter accounts out there that claim to be ‘official,’ and they’re sometimes used to spread unsavory messages,” he said.

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