10 Unbelievable Things You Never Knew About Facebook Jail
By SHARON HENDERSON
Having found myself in Facebook jail for three weeks running, it seemed like a good topic to focus on in this week’s live!
I can assure you that Facebook jail is not a fun place to be. Which prompted me to investigate why I was there and what I could do to ensure I didn’t end up there again! And hopefully I can help other people avoid this happening to them. I’ve heard from a number of people recently that this is an increasingly common phenomenon.
Worse, it can be the death knell to your business if Facebook is the only social media platform that you use to generate business.
When it comes to my own dealings on Facebook’s platform, I believe that I’m pretty ethical. After all, I trade on my reputation. If you’re trying to grow a reputable brand, then why would you behave in any other way? And yet, here I am, in Facebook jail for a third time in three weeks. Which certainly motivated me to delve deeper and try to figure out why.
So What is Facebook Jail Exactly?
Before looking at what Facebook Jail is, let’s first take a look at what Facebook jail actually entails. Facebook jail is the term used to define a situation where Facebook is punishing you – and therefore, your business, in some way.
Sanctions may be imposed on your profile, on a business page or in relation to one of your groups. There are a wide variety of different potential infractions for which Facebook can punish you.
A common Facebook punishment is to place restrictions or even a complete block on certain Facebook features. At the very worst, Facebook can disable your entire account – or even impose a complete shutdown.
When your entire business relies on Facebook, such a sanction can be catastrophic. There are plenty of stories about people who have literally had to start over as a consequence of Facebook’s sanctions.
That’s why I’m a staunch advocate of the philosophy that you should never put all your eggs in one basket. You’re far better to spread the risk across multiple platforms, so that if one option is closed off from you, all is not lost. I don’t rely solely on Facebook for my business for this very reason. And finding myself with sanctions imposed by Facebook for three weeks running certainly reinforces this stance for me!
Facebook Jail: The Appeal Process
Each week, Facebook add a new notification that restrictions have been placed on my Facebook page for allegedly breaching some mystery Community Standards. That notification includes a button to click if you wish to appeal the decision.
Every week, I have clicked the button and duly lodged an appeal. Those appeals should feature on the Facebook Support Inbox page. Mysteriously, as soon as the appeal is submitted, it disappears into the ether. There’s absolutely no trace of it – not on the Facebook Support Inbox page or anywhere else.
What I do see, however, are appeals dating back to April 2019, which remain “in review”. I headed on over to Facebook Live Chat Support so that I could speak with a real person. That’s always been my recourse in the past when Facebook bots have imposed unjust and arbitrary penalties.
I was dismayed to discover that Live Chat Support had disappeared! Leaving me with no ability to talk with a human being. Imagine if this sort of thing happened outside of Facebook.
Consider a situation where you were told you’d committed a crime – but were never told what that crime was? Imagine if you were thrown into jail with no right to be heard, no right to appeal – and it kept on happening? How terrifying would that be? And how unjust? And yet, this is precisely what happens with Facebook, and we just accept this as the way things are. The mind certainly boggles.
The Penalties Facebook Can Impose
Limitations can be placed on your ability to publish posts. This is something that happened to me a while back. Turned out to be what Facebook termed a “false positive”.
In other words, I had done absolutely nothing wrong but the Facebook bots erroneously flagged my account and prevented me from adding any links anywhere. Even on my own page and in my own group!
The one saving grace on that occasion was that Facebook’s Live Chat Support was still available, so I was able to get the issue sorted. If this issue had arisen now, when support from human beings is no longer a thing, I would most likely have had to have closed down the account and started again.
The worst scenario is that your entire account can be disabled or even shut down. Facebook can also reduce the visibility of your posts on users’ News Feeds. And you are not always notified when this penalty has been imposed! Frequently this happens to people without them even knowing about it.
There are plenty of “secret” rules Facebook doesn’t publicise. In this situation, Facebook will impose these sanctions anyway. And they won’t tell you what they’ve done. It’s a common complaint that Facebook users have seen audience engagement in the thousands suddenly dwindle to 100 people or less. And they have no idea why. They can be creating content to their heart’s content and think that it’s being seen by people but in actual fact, it isn’t!
Facebook Live with Jennifer Keeling-Byrne
I did a great live with guest speaker, Jennifer Keeling-Byrne a while back about this very topic. You can watch the replay here. It really does make for some very very interesting viewing!
So, the rules in Facebook’s Community Standards are the rules that they choose to tell you about. But there are also lots of secret rules they choose not to disclose – and which you could – and probably are unwittingly breaking.
Facebook can also remove your profile or your page altogether. As you can see, the penalties can be really really harsh.
How to Avoid Facebook Jail
Once you understand the rationale behind Facebook’s rules, you can reduce your chance of winding up in jail. And don’t forget to check out Jennifer’s advice on how to avoid the “secret rules”.
One way to stay out of jail, is to pause between posts. My usual way of doing things is that I will create a post – or my VA will create one of her beautiful graphics. My VA will then put the post on my Facebook page. She will also post to my group. I then share the post to my Facebook profile and to my Facebook Stories.
Like most people, I’m busy and I have lots to do. So I fire off these posts in quick succession. However, this behaviour leaves you at risk of the Facebook bots flagging this activity as spam.
That’s because spammers share the same content multiple times to multiple places. Even though it was my content and I was showing it to my profile and my story, I can nevertheless wind up having sanctions imposed.
To avoid this happening to you, it’s safest to wait five minutes between two activities. And, yes, this is very frustrating if you are busy and you don’t have time to sit around waiting between posts. There are scheduling apps like the Cron Scheduler that claim to offer a solution to this problem. I haven’t used this app personally, but it might be worth exploring as a workaround.
Beware of 3rd Party Apps
If you use a third party app when Facebook offers a native solution, they tend to frown upon this. And yes, you guessed it, your audience reach can well be reduced as a consequence. So always be careful to only use apps that are official partners of Facebook.
Always Create Original Content
This is particularly the case with images that you might get from Google search results. Images that show up in Google search results are more likely to have been over-used and marked as spam. It follows that using one of these images in your posts increases the risk of you being flagged as a spammer yourself! The same applies to text and to links that you share. So, the safest approach is to always use original content. Canva is a great option for creating original graphics to accompany your posts.
Keep Your Facebook Activities Personal
This rule underpins many of Facebook’s Community Standards. So, it’s always important to always ask yourself whether you’re behaving in a way that a personal facebook profile user would behave. Then
you’re probably not going to go far wrong.
I’ve broken this particular heading into a number of rules.
Rule #1: Don’t friend request random people.
Don’t fire off large numbers of friend requests to people just to grow your Facebook friends list. The fact that you may appear to be a spam bot aside, it’s just not cool. I receive more friend requests each day than I have time to respond to. With the small number I do consider each day, the first thing I do is check out their friend list.
After a while, you start to see patterns – the same names pop up time and again. You start to recognise people who are indiscriminate in the people they accept as friends.
If I see that someone is “friend harvesting” I automatically delete them. And I’m sure I’m not alone in this. So be selective when it comes to the friend requests you accept. There’s a very good basis for the saying that you are judged by the company you keep! Reputation aside, Facebook also takes a dim view of friend request spammers.
The more people you spam with friend requests, the greater the number of people that will decline your request. This is a red flag to Facebook.
Rule #2: Don’t Add People to Groups Without Their Consent.
This is simply not a cool thing to do, and is likely to result in people reporting you.
Rule #3: Never tag people in images or videos if they aren’t in fact in it.
There’s nothing more annoying than when you look at your notifications and you see that you’ve been tagged in a post, an image or a video, and discover that you have absolutely nothing to do with it.
Rule #4: Don’t Post on Facebook Pages with Non Personal Profiles.
This goes against Facebook’s policy that only people can have profiles. And the same goes for trying to join a group as a page. As a group admin, I don’t generally accept pages that ask to join my group. For one thing, I don’t know who the person is. I can’t address them by their name, and you just lose the whole personal touch. It’s also a way of promoting another page’s business on your page. It’s not respectful or ethical to do that.
So, if you’re going to be in someone else’s group, you really should have the respect to abide by the rules.
Every single person is allowed to have one Facebook profile – only one and then you use that profile to create your various pages for your businesses and new groups.
Rule #5: Keep your personal profile about you and not your business, and make sure your name reflects this.
It’s important to use your real name. So, I’m Sharon Henderson in my profile. On
my page, I use a different name – something that relates to my business. That’s the way you do it. You can certainly have BIOS and Facebook gives you the opportunity to add your website url into your profile page.
At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be about spamming people with promotional stuff. It’s about building relationships and that’s what Facebook is trying to encourage.
Rule #6: Don’t Promote Your Business on other People’s Pages.
It’s unethical and it’s also incredibly rude. Every so often someone in my group will post their own live, talking about their own business, or just plain spamming with their promotional material. They don’t even bother to add any text to go with it. So I delete it of course because it shows no respect for what the group is about.
My group is about supporting one another, helping one another and adding value. On the other hand, if someone is asking for a service that your business provides, then in this situation it’s okay to drop a link or mention your business.
My rule of thumb in my group is that I remove the first promotional attempt without notifying the offender. If they do it a second time, I’ll let them know. As a group admin, when you opt to delete a post that breaches Community Standards, Facebook asks you to select which category the breach falls within. Promotions and spam is one of the options.
At the very bottom of the dialogue box, you can choose whether or not to allow the group member to be notified of their breach. The third time someone self-promotes, I just remove them from the group. It’s as easy as that.
Rule #7: Don’t Use Private Messages to Promote Your Business.
That, too, is spam. If you’re doing that on a regular basis, then people are likely to report you and you will most likely wind up in Facebook jail or, worse, you will have your account closed down for persistent breaches. And, of course, you’re not making any friends behaving in this way, so why do it? It really doesn’t benefit you at all.
Rule #8: Make sure your page and post likes are genuine.
Liking too many posts so that you appear in their newsfeed can also result in you being flagged as spam.
Rule #9: Everything in Moderation
Avoid doing anything to excess. Don’t engage in any activity too fast, too often or too much. Avoid filling your followers’ timelines with constant posts. Sometimes less is more. If you’re getting too much content from someone, the chances are they’re going to alter their notification settings so they receive no more posts from you. Which is the antithesis of what you want to achieve! And, of course, any of these behaviours is likely to result in Facebook flagging you as spam.
Rule #10: Make Sure Your Profile is Complete.
Not only is this a great opportunity to sell your skills, your services, and/or your products and tell people how awesome you are, but it reduces the chances of people reporting you for spamming them. That’s because a complete profile provides substance and increases your online reputation and credibility. So fill out all the fields in the “About” section.
Rule #11: Shorten your links.
If you are posting the same full link multiple times on multiple pages – which you may well be doing for genuine, ethical reasons – you can still be picked up by the algorithm and marked as spam. You can avoid this by using a link shortener. Here are a few link shorteners that are available to use:
Link Wizard – Inkw.co
This is the software I use, because of the many awesome features built into this app. I have in fact run a live on this previously, the replay for which you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/SharonxHenderson/videos/10157541455604974/?t=2
Google – goo.gl
Bit.ly has been around for a long time, and a lot of people use it to shorten their links. I, personally, would discourage you from using this one because the “.ly” tells you that it originates in the Lebanon. For political reasons, a lot of countries block things that come from Lebanon. Which means that if you’re using this link shortener, it may not always work.
I learned the hard way when I took out a solo ad and I used a bit.ly link. Then, afterwards, I thought I should just test the link and make sure it was working. I wish I’d thought to test it before I took out the ad! To my dismay, 50% of the time, the shortened link didn’t take me through to the ad!
Jetpack – wp.me.
Jetpack is a WordPress plugin. I don’t tend to use Jetpack because I find this particular plugin to be bloated software. That’s because it has a lot of features that you might not necessarily need. This can result in a slow website.
Watch out for Saboteurs
This is a big one. Consider this scenario. You’re doing really well, you’re behaving ethically, your brand is awesome, you’re making great connections, and you’re writing amazing posts. All sounds great so far. But sadly, there are unscrupulous folk out there who will actually report you to take down the competition. They can do this without any real Justification – and who are you going to complain to? Not Facebook Live Chat Support, because they no longer exist!
I am a huge believer in Karma. That what you put out into the Universe is what the Universe will return to you when you least expect it. But, there are people out there who, seeing a light shining brighter than theirs, feel compelled to extinguish that light so that they can outshine you.
If that happens to you, block these saboteurs from your page. You can unfriend them too so that they can no longer gain access to your posts and do any more harm. Make sure you report them by visiting their own personal profiles. You can also contact Facebook (although now that Live Support has disappeared, I’m not sure quite how you do this!)
Putting it All Together
Hopefully understanding the rationale that underpins the majority of Facebook’s Community Standards will reduce the risk of you breaching the rules and ending up with sanctions imposed.
The “secret” rules can be a little more tricky to avoid. And if you are flagged by Facebook’s bot, it’s extremely difficult to speak to a real person at Facebook to get the issue resolved. Which is why it’s so important to make sure you spread the risk, and have alternative platforms for your business. Remember, Instagram is now also owned by Facebook, so the same issues apply to Instagram as the do to Facebook
If you have experienced issues as a result of Facebook’s bots, the lack of redress from “real people” or any other experience relevant to this article, I’d love to hear from you.
02:06 What is Facebook Jail
03:35 Why You Should Spread the Risk Across Social Media Platforms
04:16 The Appeal Process
04:24 The Disappearance of Facebook’s Live Chat Support
05:11 Facebook’s Penalties
06:32 Facebook’s Secret Rules
07:29 Facebook’s Community Standards
08:41 How to Avoid Facebook Jail
09:52 Pause between Posts.
12:40 Be Careful What 3rd Party Apps You Use
13:24 Create Original Content
14:06 Keep Your Facebook Activities Personal
14:42 Rule #1: Don’t friend request random people.
17:40 Rule #2: Don’t Add People to Groups Without Their Consent.
18:39 Rule #3: Never tag people in images or videos if they aren’t in fact in it.
19:27 Rule #4: Don’t Post on Facebook Pages with Non Personal Profiles.
20:39 Rule #5: Don’t Promote Your Business on other People’s Pages.
23:35 Rule #6: Don’t Use Private Messages to Promote Your Business.
24:03: Watch out for Saboteurs.
26:14 Rule #7: Everything in Moderation
27:20 Rule #8: Make Sure Your Profile is Complete.
27:54 Rule #9: Shorten your links.
Share the love