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The First Instance that I Noticed:

Three months ago one of the pages I was following on Facebook got compromised. The page called “Happy Club :)“, created to make the fans laugh, had a total of 930,000 likes. The page didn’t have any legal existence which in my opinion most pages don’t have. You don’t go to the court registering your Facebook fan pages, do you? Unfortunate for the owner of the page, he never got it back.

How Did it Happen?

The page was brought down on IP (Intellectual property) claims. The owner of the page got a message like the one below

We have removed or disabled access to the following content that you have posted on Facebook because we received a notice from a third party that the content infringes or otherwise violates their rights:

[Page: Happy Club :)]

We strongly encourage you to review the content you have posted to Facebook to make sure that you have not posted any other infringing content, as it is our policy to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers when appropriate.

What could the owner of the page do? Nothing really. “Happy Club :)” doesn’t have a registered trademark. If it had, could he do something? May be, but not with the help of Facebook support. Facebook has a policy to deal with the situations like these and there stance is not to interfere in the matter.

Excerpt from an email

While we appreciate your concerns, as we hope you can understand, we are not in a position to adjudicate disputes between third parties. When we receive an allegation of infringement, or a suitable report of a violation of our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, our procedures require that we take action appropriate to the report.

But that’s deletion, the page wasn’t hacked?

That’s up next. As the owner of the page contacted Facebook, the user support asked him to settle the matter with third party. The third party should take the complain back and that is the only way how they may recover the page. Below is the excerpt of such mail

Thanks for your email. As you know, we received a claim of alleged rights infringement regarding the removed content. Per Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, users are prohibited from posting infringing content on the site.

If you believe that we have made a mistake in removing this content, then please contact the complaining party directly with the following information to resolve your issue:

Notice #: [X]
Contact Information:
Name – [X]
Email – [X]

If both parties agree to restore the reported content, please ask the complaining party to contact us via email with a copy of the agreement so that we can refer to the original issue. We will not be able to restore this content to Facebook unless we receive explicit notice of consent from the complaining party.

The owner of the page like everyone else would, contacted the third party. The third party was a fake identity. The emails were never responded back. The third party then created a new page by the name of “Happy Club” which of course has a new URL and migrated all the fans from allegedly infringed page to his page by requesting Facebook support.

Third party now enjoys full control over the page for the last three months. He markets several different sites and takes paid marketing projects to spread the content to 1million Facebook users.

The Word Went Out

Since then I’ve seen hundreds of pages getting compromised like that including one of my own by the name of “www.koolmuzone.com” which was the business page of my blog by the same URL. I got the same warning from Facebook about the IP claim even though the page and the blog are my intellectual properties and are also registered under the law at Pakistan. The Facebook support asked me to settle the matter with third party. Third party is a ghost.

The Music Massacre

And then came the music massacre. All the pages of all the major Pakistani music blogs and even musicians started to go down one by one. Mine being the first one went down on Saturday. Then a musician’s page by the name of Amanat Ali went down followed by pages of three more blogs(ApniISPPakMediaRevolution, PakiUM) and another musician (Annie Khalid) today.

Does Facebook Require Documents When Making the Claim?

No, it doesn’t and I did test that. That’s the form you have to fill and I did fill that and I did see the page go down. After I realized, putting an IP infringement complaint is as easy as that, I wanted to try it out. A friend of mine has a digital student network by the name of “X-News“. The network caters news of all the universities of Pakistan. We found out a UK based university, running this student news network by the same name. I filled up the form put the link to the “X-News University of Bolton” Facebook page and under 24 hours it went down. Facebook didn’t ask me to send documents of any sort or prove that it’s my trademark.

This is the Facebook’s policy and it has affected hundreds that I know of. Will they change it or continue to destroy businesses?

[More about the music massacre by ProPakistani]