Protecting Your Business on Facebook: More Flaws from the Misuse of Personal Accounts

I logged into my Facebook account this morning and did my usual scan of the networks and I ran across something that raised my eye brows.  I spoke on 4 Reasons Why Your Facebook Presence Shouldn’t Be Through ‘Friend’ Accounts and today I believe I have found a 5th reason.

To my surprise, an unnamed person has infiltrated a local AND popular night club and tagged this hotspot in a provocative image which links to an adult site.  It has been lingering on their home page for quite some time now and I grabbed some screenshots!  Here is the snippet which shows up in all 1550 friends news feeds advertising this businesses affiliation with this spam.

To make matters worse, Facebook is terribly good at making things viral and in this has virtually made this local business a jumping point for support for the adult site.  You have all seen this when a friend tags your personal account in a photo.  You are notified.  You’re friends are notified.  Your picture album has a new ‘photo’ of you.  It’s all very clean and clear.  You can see this below also.

As you can see, this business is now condoning the support of this because they have allowed the ‘friend request’ process go unchecked.  I am sure a business is not turning down friend requests as there is the plausibility that the person may be a customer or fan or whatever.  In this case, it’s a spammer.

So, what happened here?   How was this allowed and what can you do to protect your business?

As I stated clearly, in a related post, friend or ‘personal’ accounts should not be used for business activity.  This is also against Facebook Terms of Service.  The unknowing decision to set up a business as a personal account limits the very nature of what you want to happen.  It also bends the lines of the use of the page.  For example, this spammer has access to the business because the business person running the friend account accepted the friend request without checking on the person’s credibility.  After all, when you get a friend request from someone you don’t know you will ignore and most time skip these spam type accounts set up to propagate malicious content across the web.  The idea the business owner is stuck with is ALL friend requests are good because they are potential customers.  But they can’t know every customer in the business.  That’s like knowing everyone who came to your Facebook page.  It’s not available.

To turn the page a bit, this type of activity is not limited to personal accounts.  Yes, your Facebook fan or place page can become victims of this type of attack.  But what doesn’t happen is your NEW photo doesn’t go into all your friends or fans news feed alerting a new sighting of your business.  This can be embarrassing or hurtful to your business’ identity.  One way is the assumption you allow this type of activity on your page. Your fan page should always be monitored for things like this as well as your personal account.

So, how did this spammer do this?

Just like every personal account allows, the spammer created an account and started to ‘friend’ anonymous people.  Once there were enough people on the account they uploaded a provocative image and began ‘tagging’ people who have accepted the previous friend request in the image.  In this case, there is also a link to an adult site that is not safe for work.  Below you can see that many people were targeted on this attack.  It’s simple and easy for the spammer, especially when the people accepting the friend accounts are not checking if they know the person.

As you can see, someone has already voiced their dislike on this type of behavior.  Various things can be done to prevent this to your business’s presence on Facebook.  Utilizing the friend or ‘personal’ account is not the correct avenue a business should take when thinking about Facebook.  The very nature of the personal account is not business-like.

A few more tips for the businesses who have begun a relationship with their customers through personal accounts:

  1. Stop Immediately and Create a Business Fan Page (Visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php)
  2. Once your business is set up properly, post an update to the personal account announcing you are moving.
  3. Began promoting new page for a week.
  4. Delete personal account that was hosting your business account.

I know what you are thinking.  “I have 2500 friends that I communicate with.  I can’t just throw it away.”  I understand it takes a while to build a network.  If you are not careful, Facebook police may take care of this for you and just up and remove your account without notification.  I have heard of this happening.  As it is a violation of Facebook Terms (http://www.facebook.com/terms.php).  Here are some commitments you make to Facebook relating to registering and maintaining the security of your account:

  • You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.
  • You will not create more than one personal profile.
  • If we disable your account, you will not create another one without our permission.
  • You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain (such as selling your status update to an advertiser).
  • You will not use Facebook if you are under 13.
  • You will not use Facebook if you are a convicted sex offender.
  • You will keep your contact information accurate and up-to-date.
  • You will not share your password, (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.
  • You will not transfer your account (including any page or application you administer) to anyone without first getting our written permission.
  • If you select a username for your account we reserve the right to remove or reclaim it if we believe appropriate (such as when a trademark owner complains about a username that does not closely relate to a user’s actual name).

As you can see, there is much to be understood about doing business on Facebook.  Your business’ reputation is on the line and a simple difference such as the ones stated above can help protect you and also provide a long and smart relationship with Facebook.

Now, the question is how long with this business allow this spammer to stay up on their ‘personal’ account?  Clock is ticking…

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