On being trapped by your technology provider – 3

There are new risks to go along with all the great technology we have available today.  Previously discussed the risk of not owning your domain name and being trapped by your tech provider.  This post goes the opposite direction of discussing the risk of getting shut down by your social media provider.

Illustration 3 – being shut down by your social media platform  – don’t put all your eggs in one basket

This is a story that is in flux and I think has been corrected.  As you will see, the worry is it could be repeated here or on some other platform.

The very short version is a site called Lamebook has been poking fun of dumb discussion threads on Facebook.  They got into an argument with Facebook over trademark issues.  Said dispute has grown into a lawsuit.  A couple weeks ago, Facebook wiped out Lamebook’s fan page on Facebook and deleted all their links and fan comments.  In fact, Facebook blocked all postings into or out of Facebook that referenced the Lamebook.com web site.

The ins and outs of the trademark issues are far beyond my ability to understand and explain.  The big league lawyers will sort that out and the courts will give us the right answer eventually.  There are things we do need to focus on though.

See more background by my friend John Bredehoft, lots of detail by Techcrunch, a correction and apology by the CTO of Facebook, and further follow-up by John.

What is the issue here?  If you get into a really, really serious dispute with Facebook, as did the team behind Lamebook, then Facebook can completely delete everything you have at Facebook.  As John Bredehoft points out, it is their site, they wrote the terms of service, and they can enforce those terms as they see fit.  That is fine, legal, and within their rights.

Having said that, it means there is a possibility that everything you have at Facebook could disappear one day in the future.  There is a very low likelihood, but still a possibility.

What does this mean?  There is a very serious risk, even if it is an extremely low probability, that your material at Facebook could disappear.  All that internet traffic, all the phone calls to your shop, all the drop-in visits to your store, and all the phone calls to your sales line could disappear in the middle of the day.  That risk is tremendously amplified if you have dropped your web site in order to focus your marketing efforts on Facebook, as many businesses have done.

The good news is that it looks like Facebook quickly realized how out of line this action was (see the comment by their CTO above) and appears to have corrected it.  I checked and saw a Lamebook fan page up on Facebook and it does link to the site. (Don’t go to their website if you dislike bad language!)  Good for Facebook to have changed so quickly.  Attaboys and attagirls to their tech team.

However, the very real risk remains.  Consider as a part of your risk analysis that Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or any of the other social media sites (don’t have space to list the 100 sites that are next on the popularity list), could turn off your access to their platform if you step across their lines.  The old adage of ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ is still true.

See previous posts here and here.

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