Unauthorized Social Media Pages for Your Association

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By Rian W. Jones, Esq.

Social media has become an effective means of communication of both accurate and inaccurate information.  Most of us post on Facebook, and to a lesser extent, Tweet, Snapchat or use some other form of social media to express ideas or just show everyone what we are doing.  There are no “truth filters” on social media.  The wise among us will ask: “Is that true” or “Is that really so-and-so posting or someone else”?

Imagine that you are perusing Facebook and you run across a Facebook Page for your particular association.  You know that it is not your association’s official Facebook Page, but it sure looks to the world like it is.  What can an association do if someone misappropriates its identity on social media?

Facebook has very specific “Terms of Use for Pages” policy for pages that are created for a brand, entity, place or organization.  This policy provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

  1. General
  2. A Page for a brand, entity (place or organization), or public figure may be administered only by an authorized representative of that brand, entity (place or organization) or public figure (an “official Page”).
  3. Any user may create a Page to express support for or interest in a brand, entity (place or organization), or public figure, provided that it does not mislead others into thinking it is an official Page, or violate someone’s rights. If your Page is not the official Page of a brand, entity (place or organization) or public figure, you must:
  4. Not speak in the voice of, or post content as though it was coming from, the authorized representative of the Page’s subject matter; and
  5. Make clear that the Page is not the official Page of the brand, entity (place or organization) or public figure.

Twitter, Snapchat and other social media platforms have similar requirements in their terms of service: that the user must be authorized by the entity to post on behalf of the entity.

If someone has an unauthorized Facebook Page, your legal counsel can take action to contact Facebook on behalf of your association to report the unauthorized use of the identity of the Association and demand:

(1) That the Page be removed, or

(2) That the user who created the Page

(a) Comply with the specific terms of service and,

(b) Make it clear that

(i) The Page is not the official Page of the Association (i.e., make it a user-administered Community Page – a Page about an organization or topic that the user does not officially represent, and

(ii) The user does not “speak in the voice of, or post content as though it was coming from, the authorized representative of the Page’s subject matter.”

For other social media platforms, contact your legal counsel and ask them to demand that the account of the unauthorized user be suspended.

And, as always post, tweet, snap and/or share responsibly! The internet is forever.

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Helpful Tip!

If your association has a Facebook Page, a proactive step the association can take, is to “verify” the association’s Page. Facebook uses verification for authentication purposes and this makes the association’s Official Page appear more legitimate.  “If you see a gray badge on a Page, it means that Facebook confirmed that this is an authentic Page for this business or organization.”

Helpful Links:

  • What is a verified page:

https://www.facebook.com/help/196050490547892?helpref=faq_content

  • How to request a verification badge:

https://www.facebook.com/help/100168986860974?helpref=faq_content