Facebook Shuts Down Page with 47,000+ Fans

Well now we know who the boss is.  Facebook has shut down a real estate business page with 47,000 plus members giving zero notice to the page owner, Jonathan Rivera.  The Official Real Estate Referral Group is a community that Jon started almost 2 years ago and had just crossed the 47,000 fan mark making it one of the largest real estate related pages on Facebook.  The goal of the page was to connect like minded real estate agents who were looking to grow their business via referrals and social media.  Simply put, you meet a buyer or seller looking in another market and you can shout out to the page that you need another agent to handle the deal.  Jon had created over 1400 opportunities for agents in the last 18 months and more importantly has put countless time, energy and resources into moderating such a large page.

The controversy is related to the vanity URL that Jon chose when first setting up the page.  Once a Facebook Page has 25 fans the admin can go to Facebook.com/Username and secure a custom or vanity URL.  When Jon did this 2 years ago he choose Facebook.com/socialrealtors.  This is indeed improper use of the trademarked word Realtor so The National Association of Realtors or NAR reached out to Jon about changing the URL.  After several failed attempts to get Facebook to change the ending or at the least just remove any vanity ending, they instead this morning took the page away without notice!

The NAR trademark office has emailed Facebook directly stating that it wasn’t their intention to break up the popular group, just to have the URL reworked so that it would be NAR approved.  As opposed to allowing a simple change to the URL they shut the lights off without warning?

This is a close to home example that Facebook has total control over their network and can hit buttons that make your hard work and community vanish, literally over night and without warning.  Make sure your social media presence is weather proof and always secure email addresses when possible.

Please help Jon out by sharing this post and helping spread the word about this story.  If they can hit a button and make it go away we are fairly confident they could hit another to make it reappear with a new compliant URL.  The more people that read and share this post the better the chances are that their decision could be reversed.  Thanks guys!

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  1. […] as things move forward.  Jonathan has been working diligently to get the page reinstated, and from his interview with Techsavvy Agent, NAR was being agreeable in him keeping the page as long as the username gets […]

  2. Josh Nekrep July 14, 2010 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    You know, this is a rather stark example of why services such as Facebook, Twitter, and the like – though valuable tools – are not suitable to be your “main presence” when it comes to online identity.

    But it’s catch 22, really. It would be awfully difficult to get thousands of followers on your own homepage, but the ease of “shareability” on social media sites really makes them take over.

    I feel bad for Jonathon. I’ll be interested to see if Facebook responds well and fixes this issue.

  3. Danny July 14, 2010 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    You think this could have been an easy solution just be forwarding to a different url, I hope Facebook does right by him that is a lot of work, they don’t really need any more negative press.

  4. Kristal Kraft July 14, 2010 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    It’s too bad this happened but you can turn it into a valuable lesson for others who continually use the trademark inappropriately. You may also even get Facebook to change the silly way they don’t allow you to switch.

    For someone who has created this amazing group in such a short time this should be a good (but easy) challenge for you!

    With all the promo you will get from this you will be able to grow the group again and better than before!

  5. Fred July 14, 2010 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    Guess you should have been more careful about the username you picked to begin with. Waaaa! Good luck getting in touch with Facebook. Just start a new page man.

  6. Jonathan July 15, 2010 at 12:04 am - Reply

    I really appreciate your support Chris. This is crazy, but things like this also help bring our community together. Thanks!

  7. […] PS  Here’s a video that Jonathan posted, explaining the situ…  http://techsavvyagent.com/video/facebook-shuts-down-page-with-47000-fans/ […]

  8. Wendy Herndon July 15, 2010 at 12:31 am - Reply

    Here you go Jonathan…

    Found this doing some research… I called and it sounds like a legit number… good luck! Let me know how it works out! ☺

    Facebook, Inc.
    471 Emerson St.
    Palo Alto, CA 94301-1605 United States (Map)

    Phone: 650-543-4800
    Fax: 650-543-4801

    • Chris July 15, 2010 at 12:36 am - Reply

      Thanks Wendy! Your the best. Liking that new Gmail custom signature option I bet 🙂

  9. Sue Picano July 15, 2010 at 12:57 am - Reply

    Seriously this is ridiculous. I’ve seen it happen to friends on personal pages… they shut you down and you are done. FB is great but they are not the US government (ok so they probably do a better job with putting an end to things… but clearly they don’t do any research first)

    Sorry about this. I hope we can all get it back up and the media will help you out. I thought this was a great vehicle for all of us !!REALTORS!! who were fans of your page.

  10. Naomi July 15, 2010 at 3:23 am - Reply

    Wow! That is crazy! Talk about hitting the wrong button. How hard can it be to allow a change to the url? I hope this can be resolved with all 47,000 peeps in tact.

  11. @ChrisBrashear July 15, 2010 at 4:04 am - Reply

    Wow… I have described this exact scenario but this is the first I have heard or seen it happen. You can build a “fan base” on Facebook but the real goal is to build a portable Fan Base that you can reach if Facebook disappears (or someone at Facebook hits the delete button on your Page). E-mail capture is vital to securing some stability in your “fans”.

    @chrisbrashear

  12. Steve @Erraticblog July 15, 2010 at 4:13 am - Reply

    Crazy! Absolutely crazy!
    It’s a clear sign that Facebook has grown so fast that they don’t have the systems in place to properly handle things such as this. With some fairly simple protocols in place NAR should have easily gotten through to notify Facebook… Jonathan should have easily gotten through to have his requested change be made… and Facebook should have a simple notification system to let Jonathan know the status of things and then be able to change the URL itself.
    Completely pulling the plug is just wrong.

  13. […] Facebook page with 47,000+ members (fans) was deleted today.  The site used the Trademarked term “REALTOR” in an […]

  14. Melanie July 15, 2010 at 4:43 am - Reply

    Since there’s 47,000 realtors on the page, you’d think NARS would offer to sponsor it ~ even if they needed the username changed.

  15. Mariana July 15, 2010 at 4:58 am - Reply

    This just happened to my real estate page and I didnt event use the term REALTOR. hrmph.

  16. Kaz July 15, 2010 at 5:02 am - Reply

    Hello.
    this page was deleted a few months back, it had about 17000 fans …
    Solve Horseback Riding Fears by Jane Savoie ….
    The lady who created the page had it reinstalled. she posted a blog somewhere about how she did it… who she went to at facebook.
    It would be worthwhile doing a google to see if you can find her instructions… or at least contact her via her page …
    Hope you get your page re-instated asap.
    Cheers from Kaz

  17. Mari Smith July 15, 2010 at 5:18 am - Reply

    Hey Chris & Jonathan — I’ve done what I can to help so far. We’re tweeting/retweeting up a storm on Twitter – even caught the eye of Robert Scoble, a very good thing. I know he has contacts inside Facebook. 🙂

    Jonathan – check your email, trying to pull some strings for you!!

    The good news is Facebook doesn’t delete data; your page is intact and I’m confident this matter will be resolved. I’ve had my own fan page taken down in the past for an issue with Facebook and had it reactivated very quickly.

    Fingers crossed for ya!!

    @marismith

  18. Sue Anne Reed July 15, 2010 at 5:31 am - Reply

    I feel bad for the guy that he lost his page, but I really do think that this teaches two valuable lessons:
    a) If you take the risk of using a name where you don’t own the brand, you might run in to some difficulties.
    b) relying on a platform like Facebook where you don’t own any level of control is a mistake and you shouldn’t base your whole business on it.

  19. gilbert peralta July 15, 2010 at 6:07 am - Reply

    It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a company would have control over its own product. Facebook has the right to do whatever it wants. People should read the TOS better.

  20. […] Questa vicenda (ancora non sappiamo se Rivera riavrà la sua pagina, Facebook non ha comunicato assolutamente nulla) ci deve far riflettere però sulla volatilità e nel senza di perenne incertezza che si ha se si vuole associare il proprio personal branding o quello di un marchio per intero ad un social network. Il buon vecchio sito, integrato con una forte dose di comunicazione sociale, è sempre la migliore risorsa. Letto su TechSavvyagent […]

  21. Monica July 15, 2010 at 9:41 am - Reply

    Hi!,

    I also had a fanpage with 12.000 fans in the first 3 months and one day, facebook send me an email asking me to do 1 of 3 steps to ensure my page. The thing is that I did the all 3 steps!…not just one!…showing the fan box on my blog, having a website with the same name and I don’t remember the 3rd one. So, all was more than fine. And gues what?, the day after, my account was shot down!. It was a very close community, all very sad, writting to facebook to reactivate my page. Following the steps that Jane Savoie told me with her issue on “Solve Horseback Riding Fears” and also Robert Grant with Crowd Converion…and nothing happened nor a simple email or explanation!. It’s veeeery frustrating and unfair to treat like facebook does. But, I don’t lose my hopes. Facebook has to improve his communication with their clients.

    If someone know what can we do in order to reactivete the page I will be always grateful for!

    (hope you understand my bad english 😉 )

    Happy daaaaaay!!!!,

    Mónica.
    Barcelona, SPAIN

  22. Chris July 15, 2010 at 9:43 am - Reply

    Thanks @mari It worked. After Robert RT’d it got legs and has gone a bit viral. Let’s hope the next post is on the right decision by FB!

  23. AnnaLaura Brown July 15, 2010 at 11:59 am - Reply

    This really stinks for you. I hope facebook not only brings back your page but makes it so you can change the vanity url if you have to.

  24. […] July 15, 2010 by Arthur Charles Van Wyk · Leave a Comment  via techsavvyagent.com […]

  25. Arthur Charles Van Wyk July 15, 2010 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    This happened to me this morning. I just got a message saying that I contravened the terms of use by creating a page for a casino here in Durban, South Africa. My page went up long after that of the casino, and in addition nobody but the casino benefited from what I was doing.
    Fortunately the only thing that worked for me was that my page used the exact name of the casino, and the casino itself did not use their full name on their Facebook page.

    I had to just take it. Nothing I can do… or is there?

  26. RealtorAngieP July 15, 2010 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    What did NAR do? Call Facebook? Why didn’t they give Jonathan an opportunity to change the name of the page? When I used the term Realtor improperly (njrealtor1 on twitter) a member of NAR contacted me and I made a change.

    Not cool NAR or Facebook. But goes to show that your fan page is not your own. Now that’s telling.

  27. KatyTXRealtor July 15, 2010 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    Facebook needs to bring this page back. These guys have obviously put a lot of work into making this page a huge success with the Realtor community. We support you Jon!

  28. Dan July 15, 2010 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Yet in Britain, Facebook won’t remove a page glorifying a chap who shot 3 people, including a police officer whom he left blind, killing one of them, and leaving the other with serious injuries. Figure that one out

  29. Brian Cheese July 15, 2010 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    Facebook is a private company, it is not an inalienable right.

    Who the hell sets up a business as a facebook page? make your own website, fight your own legal battles.

  30. Ruse July 15, 2010 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    @Brian cheese and others: whether or not they have set up the page and relied on it for business is not the point. The person worked hard on the page and the big guys didn’t have the decency to look into the matter. Fb, it seems, has very little regard for their userbase. We should be standing up for Jonathan, not giving him a hard time for using the wrong word which I’m sure he offered to change.

  31. John July 15, 2010 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    I thought Facebook was pretty clear in saying you could not change the URL once established so choose wisely. NAR is also very clear about the use of their trademarked terms. Asking Facebook to bail you out of your mistake is a stretch. Nonetheless, thanks for providing a good example of what not to do!

  32. Jared July 15, 2010 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    You probably should have created a new community page when this issue first arose and sent out alerts to your community… while it was still alive.

    I had the same issue with a domain I registerd. NAR does not mess around when I it comes to this… I had to hurry and move everything to a new place as they were threatening to contact Godaddy.

    Considering Facebook is a free service, I wonder if they will even give this issue the time of day.

  33. […] media platform like Facebook or Twitter. Today someone learned that lesson the hard way, when Facebook shut down a page with over 47,000 […]

  34. Roz Fruchtman July 15, 2010 at 9:05 pm - Reply

    I can’t even imagine what you must be feeling right about now Jonathan… So VERY sorry…

    I tweeted and shared on Facebook. Hope it helps!

  35. Philip July 15, 2010 at 11:22 pm - Reply

    Hi
    The Referral Group sounds like a great idea, and congratulations on the success you had, John.

    BUT where-ever you are not in control of your data, you are not in control of your business.

    FB is just one example.
    All of those sites that provide online storage of your contacts, your calendar, your email, your files, can put you in the same position. They could just shut down your service overnight… which could shut down your business too.

    Do people reliase this now ? ?

    The trend towards central storage of information is taking the control away from you, as John has found out.

  36. […] is doing the walk of shame or maybe just what they should have done in the first place.  After this post was Tweeted nearly 400 times and shared on Facebook 315 times in the last 24 hours it seems that […]

  37. Sachin July 16, 2010 at 4:36 am - Reply

    That’s really sad…. I am going to share this story to my blog because i also have a page about social media marketing on facebook where i am spending my lots of time & effort to just build up a good community…. I don’t wana take this risk in future… I hope my blog readers can also give some support in this….

  38. […] Read Complete Story […]

  39. Jay Philips July 17, 2010 at 12:30 am - Reply

    Wow, you’d think that Facebook would have at least contacted the page admin that they needed to select a new username or something.

  40. […] I can secure the URL. Then once I have it, I’m pretty much golden (unless of course you’re that Jonathan guy who had his fan page with 47,000+ users shut down overnight by Facebook with no […]

  41. […] I was I didn’t realize how this page had impacted the community.  Luckily, Chris Smith from Tech Savvy Agent recognized this as a big story and did an interview with me to let our community know what […]

  42. […] American-based Facebook fan page owner saw his page and its 47,000 fans disappear overnight. The page, called The Official Real Estate Referral Group, was started over two years ago and was […]

  43. […] Furthermore a  third party site leaves your company  at the mercy of the powers that be. As the third party provider can suspend or cancel your account without warning for suspected or perceived abuse of their ‘Terms of Service’, thus rendering months or years of hard work useless. Such was the case last week when a page with 47000+ fans was disabled because Facebook believed that it was in violation of their terms of service. This matter has since been resolved and you can read the details here. […]

  44. […] Analytics, Technology, etc. A few weeks ago, one such link came across Tweetdeck. It was about Facebook apparently shutting down a page that had built up 47,000 fans. The problem had to do with the page in question using a vanity URL with the word Realtor in it […]

  45. […] you plan to share as not everything is welcome by them. Facebook recently recently shut down a Facebook fanpage with 47,000 fans based on a vanity URL. The Realestate referral group was one of the largest on real estate group on […]

  46. […] was a HUGE eye opener not only for him, but for everyone.   Or at least I hope it was!   When Facebook shut down his real estate business page with 47,000 plus members, not only did he lose his mind, but he also lost the majority of those 47,000+ […]

  47. Ronduh July 23, 2010 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    Call Diane Sawyer @ABC News. She just did an interview with the founder of Facebook. Also, they probably took it down at the recommendation of their legal department, in fear of getting their pants sued by NAR! Whatcha bet?

  48. […] It has  been interesting to see Facebook getting tough on cyber squatters which culminated in the closure of a page with 47,000 fans. Although, Facebook acted tough on this occasion, they reaffirmed to me that ”a Community […]

  49. Matt Farnsworth August 10, 2010 at 3:03 am - Reply

    Had a facebook fan page for my new film that grew to 12,000 fans in 10 days…One day it was just gone. A horror film I am making called the Orphan Killer. Not sure what to do. 12,000 fans and it was rising fast. Making me a little nuts to say the least. No warning just an email that said page deleted.

  50. […] Think it can’t happen? Then take a look at this guy. He didn’t think it could happen to him either… “Well now we know who the boss is.  Facebook has shut down a real estate business page with 47,000 plus members giving zero notice to the page owner, Jonathan Rivera. The Official Real Estate Referral Group is a community that Jon started almost 2 years ago and had just crossed the 47,000 fan mark making it one of the largest real estate related pages on Facebook.” [source TechSavvyAgent.com] […]

  51. […] get the word out to help get his page restored. He asked different people to share a blog post by Tech Savvy Agent on their Facebook walls. It was amazing the number of people sharing his story. It showed up […]

  52. […] get the word out to help get his page restored. He asked different people to share a blog post by Tech Savvy Agent on their Facebook walls. It was amazing the number of people sharing his story. It showed up […]

  53. Mike Payne - Sarasota Realtor October 22, 2010 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Proves no one should put all his/her “eggs” in one basket. I too mistakenly used “REALTOR” in a domain name and faced the NAR police.

    It would be nice if NAR used some of our money to protest banks’ disrespectful treatment of REALTORS’ in short sale transactions.

    Every REALTOR working short sales knows exactly what I mean.

  54. […] in July 2010 Facebook Shut Down The Official Real Estate Referral Group.  At that point the community had grown to 47,000 members.  Luckily some a of my good friends […]

  55. alex rodriguez December 7, 2010 at 1:53 am - Reply

    It’s amazing how quickly your hard work can be dimished into nothing. i am trying to think of a fan page right now, and I saw this article. It’s a good thing, I really need to think before I make my page. Good article.

  56. […] and the page was then shut down.  However after the post we wrote here on 210 and the one over on Tech Savvy Agent and a massive online effort by thousands, the page was reinstated & the URL was […]

  57. […] first step was asking people to help him out by sharing a Tech Savvy Agent blog post of his unfortunate story on their Facebook […]

  58. […] appeal to Facebook to have it revoked. There have been instances of Facebook removing entire pages like this one, including 47,000 fans, which had the word “realtor” (a word that’s trademarked […]

  59. John Smith June 23, 2011 at 9:35 am - Reply

    I had a fan page with over 109,000 fans which Facebook just closed down. I am thinking of starting an anti-Facebook campaign. This is so unfair! I had put so much time and effort into my page.

    I will probably boycott facebook for orkut. Also, I will never ever invest my time into a fan page even if I keep one. I’m so upset and angry.

  60. Jessica M November 29, 2011 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    Yet another reason it’s a waste of money to pay your “Realtor” dues each year. The only real benefit is use of the word “realtor” which is trademarked and should NAR decided they don’t want you to have that any more you get literally NOTHING for your dues. I’m an independent agent (not a REALTOR) and PROUD of it!

  61. Lynn Williams December 10, 2011 at 4:47 am - Reply

    That is one of the major stumbling blocks to using social networking sites, and I am not sure what should be done about this issue. You never know when they are going to change a rule or decide to make a decision that impacts you negatively.

  62. Framingham MA Realtor December 18, 2011 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    I remember reading about this and felt so bad for the guy. I can’t imagine all the hard work that went down the drain!

  63. Sharon April 5, 2012 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    http://www.facebook.com/SocialRealtors

    is now Social Bulldogs Real Estate, so what’s up with that?

  64. Should Facebook Replace Blogging? November 30, 2012 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    […] all heard of Facebook shutting down popular Pages. Like the real estate page with over 47,000 fans. The issue was related to a legitimate trademark issue but Facebook refused the owners attempt to […]

  65. Shelby February 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    This happened to me too. While I was in college I wanted to use a fan page as a portfolio piece so I created a fans of New York Fashion Week page. Over two years I grew it to over 40,000 fans. One day, Facebook took it down and I do not know how to get it back up. Any tips?

  66. Anita Clark April 8, 2013 at 1:47 am - Reply

    This is actually more common than people think, and is a real shame that social media sites really have no regard for consumers.

  67. Warner Robins Homes April 8, 2013 at 1:52 am - Reply

    Was this issue ever resolved? I know the NAR can be a stickler on their trademarks but you would think that FB could easily change the wording on the vanity URL and allow the page to stay up.

  68. Chris April 8, 2013 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    Has anyone found a more effective means of attempting to get help with a page that has disappeared/been removed?

    When I visit the URL it simply redirects me to my homepage, while if I change the URL it shows me a page not found error. This to me indicates the page is still there (as would be supported by the 14 day period before it is removed) but as an admin, I am not able to see it in my pages to change this. If it was unpublished I believe as admin I would still see the page and would still be able to view the page.

    I am stuck. Noone is able to view my page. It’s not accessible by me, and I know the 2 other admins (the actual business owners) would not have done such a thing. Having reported the issue and being over a week with no response from Facebook I am beginning to become desperate for other options, or answers. There was never even an e-mail received by any of us. What does someone do?

    From the looks of it, nothing… this is a rude awakening. I wish they would tell people this more clearly that if your businesses page simply disappears that they won’t be of any help, as I would not have spent the time or money I did in creating or promoting it. I wish I had something more to tell the owners than I’m doing everything I can to find out what happened…

    /Chris.

  69. […] risk of having their activities reported to Facebook and having their Pages shut down by Facebook. Just ask the owners of the page that had 47,000 Fans and were shut down. Think Facebook cares about a brand Page that has violated Facebook  rules and TOS? Think again. […]

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