Small Businesses Are Vulnerable To Facebook False Flag Attacks

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Small business owners may be unaware that their Facebook business pages are vulnerable to sabotage and can disappear overnight whenever a disgruntled employee or competitor decides to launch a false harassment report.

Fremont, CA (PR Web), August 18, 2013 – Many small business owners find that they must depend on social media to bring in enough business to remain profitable. However, this dependency proves to be a two-edged sword when these same social media sites are used for smear campaigns.

“Our monthly sales were showing a 20% improvement over last year until we got hit. That all went away this past July. It felt like a year’s work was all for nothing,” said Irene Mann, Owner of Your Coffee Cups coffee kiosk in Fremont, CA. (

Unlike cases where individuals are targeted, recourse for false harassment reports made against business pages is so slow as to seem nonexistent. From Facebook’s perspective, it makes sense to consistently apply a policy favoring individuals over businesses. However, this same policy puts businesses at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to false reports.

According to Ms. Mann, “We clicked the ‘appeal’ button and had our page reviewed and restored, but got hit again. Since there is no customer service (no phone, no email, no chat) for resolving disputes, we overnighted a letter to Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandburg, but have received no response to date. The young women I employ are working their way through college. Ms. Sandburg’s lack of response is in stark contrast to the philosophy put forward in her book, Lean In.”

This same vulnerability used to exist on the Yelp business directory where unscrupulous companies used to be able to post false negative reviews about their competitors. To its credit, Yelp has largely eliminated the problem by creating a review filter and deterring false reviews by conducting embarrassing “stings” against offenders. Business Week has praised their uniquely effective strategy.

How can it happen that one person can take down a small business?

When an employee is fired for legitimate reasons and decides to take revenge, their boss may find themselves victims of slanderous cyber-bullying and eventual shutdown. Because Facebook prioritizes the concerns of individuals over those of its business page holders, it is possible for an individual to recruit a few friends and effectively vote a business page out of existence. When this happens, business owners have no recourse other than clicking an “Appeal” button and praying.
It gets even worse. Recently a researcher discovered a vulnerability where a non-friend can post to your timeline. Facebook’s lack of responsiveness is telling.

Facebook’s lack of responsiveness has come under scrutiny in other contexts as well. People’s objections to “Rape Joke Pages” resulted in a few of them being taken down, but it was not until a boycott campaign targeting advertisers, that substantive action occurred.

Want to make sure this doesn’t happen to you? Learn from the experience of Your Coffee Cups.

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Robert Martinez
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