Hopefully this is a question that you never have to ask.  However, if you have a profile that violates Facebook’s Terms of Service, this may be a question that you will be faced with if you don’t change your ways!

At a recent event I was at regarding online marketing, the speaker mentioned that the way their company helps people be found on Facebook by using the profile name to mention the business or service.  For instance, instead of being “Elizabeth Lewis” on Facebook, they suggested being “Elizabeth Lewis (first name) Business Attorney (last name)” or simply “Business Attorney”.

This got me thinking on two issues.  First, in the Facebook terms of service, it clearly states that a profile must be linked to a person and that the person’s profile name must be their true name.  For me to use “Business Attorney” as my name violates the terms of service.  Now, several years ago prior to there being Business Pages on Facebook, Facebook may have looked the other way and not done anything about these misused profiles.  Unfortunately, they do not anymore.  Stories have come out about businesses that have had hundreds, if not thousands of friends, who suddenly have their profile deleted due to the violation of the Terms of Service.  All of a sudden a site that helped the business make money is gone.

So, how do you ensure your page isn’t deleted if the profile is a business’s name? First, you can change the profile name to someone in the business so that the account now belongs to a real person.  Next, set up a business page and ask the people on the profile page to friend you there.  And, maintain both pages – people buy products and services from people, not from businesses.  A short post about why the name is being changed and who the person behind the profile is can go a long way to having great customer relations.

Now, for the more bothersome issue.  From the discussion, the speaker at this event knew what they were doing violated the terms of service and knew that a company that did this risked having their page (that they paid good money to have done for them) removed by Facebook.  I wonder, did they tell their clients this risk?  Did they tell their clients that other sites like Google and Yahoo tend to disfavor these “black hat” SEO practices?  Did they mention that by doing things like this, their sites may be put into a black hole never to be found by search engines again?  Picking a social media/SEO company to work with is like picking anything else.  Make sure you ask questions about what they are doing and become an informed consumer by reading sites Terms of Service to make sure you aren’t in violation as it is your page – and not theirs – that will suffer the consequences.

For more information about online marketing, please read through the rest of the posts or sign up for a class I teach on the issue!  As with all the information on this site, it is for informational purposes only and is not meant to create an attorney-client relationship nor is it meant to be legal advice.