Ranger Rick Image from Facebook profile
I've been busy trying to cram over 150 tech shirts into a suitcase to take to Cambodia so I missed this one. So a hat tip to Katrin Verclas and Progressive Exchange listserv. Facebook has been taking down organizational profiles for nonprofits, including Ranger Rick's profile.
Your childhood hero, Ranger Rick, has been banished from Facebook. We need your help to bring back Ranger Rick's profile that was recently taken down by Facebook Staff. Ranger Rick Raccoon, the persona of the National Wildlife Federation and logical representative for the voice to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future has been silenced. We need your help to bring back Ranger Rick's profile that was recently taken down by Facebook Staff. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them to let Ranger Rick exist on Facebook!
This post inpsired some thoughtful discussion about Facebook profiles and reports from other organizations about their profiles being taken down. In addition, some comparisons of the pros/cons between Facebook and Myspace policies and the larger organizational policy issue related to embracing Web2.0 social networking sites. Here's a sampling:
Notes Tim Fullerton from Oxfam America,
We had this same situation happen a couple weeks ago. When we first ventured onto Facebook, I created an Oxfam America profile. This profile has existed for about a year. Two weeks ago, it mysteriously was shut down. I emailed Facebook as I assume someone hacked our account. I received an email back stating that only individuals are allowed to create profiles, but that we were more than welcome to start a group (which we already have). They said "under no circumstances" would they change their policy. So now my personal Facebook profile is the Administrator of the Oxfam America group (which I can tell you, is less than ideal). I know the move by most orgs recently has been to transition over to Facebook (something Oxfam has slowly been doing), but this is very annoying. I know they take privacy very important at Facebook, but I don't understand the logic behind this one. They make it a lot harder to interact with people than MySpace does. We will continue using both MySpace and Facebook, but this is a frustrating development.
Ivan Boothe from Genocide Intervention Network points out that Facebook's policy is because it wants to be user-centric versus group centric.
It's the same reason they don't allow messaging to group members after your group surpasses 1,000 (except for the paid political campaigns) -- because their analysis is that this would be troublesome for users, i.e. lead to a lot of spamming by the big groups. That does make it harder to organize large campaigns on Facebook, but I certainly understand their reasoning.
My guess is Facebook organizing will start moving in the direction of a Facebook App for each organization, as the Obama campaign did, as Apps allow for much more specific privacy settings and, thus, opting- in from users who are willing to receive your updates/messages/pokes/whatever.
Eric Eckle suggests that this points to some larger organizational issues in embracing social networking sites.
Regardless of what Facebook and MySpace do and don't allow, their members want to interact and converse with authentic, real, responsive individuals, not institutions. After all, if somebody wants to read organizational boilerplate, they'll visit your homepage. Institutional spokespeople who cultivate a useful reputation within a community like Facebook or Digg while acting on behalf of their employer are building a very personal equity. They can't just hand it over to their replacement when they move on to greener pastures, even if they wanted to.