In the first three months of 2019 Facebook (or should that now be FACEBOOK?) removed more than 2 billion fake accounts from the network. Mostly these accounts were blocked at the point of their creation, and estimates are that around 5% of active accounts on the platform are fake (that’s around 100,000,000).
These figures are so staggeringly large as to be on the cusp of being unimaginable – but for some sort of context the population of the world right now is only 7.7 billion.
And it means you probably need to think again if you have a secondary account for work purposes because there’s a chance you could be caught in the clear-up.
What’s the problem with fake accounts?
Fake accounts are just one of the problems Facebook is faced with (and arguably has exacerbated) in the post-truth era. Their issue isn’t really with a ‘Sarah Comms’ work account existing alongside a personal profile (although their terms of service do forbid it and require you to ‘use the same name you do in everyday life’) but with the mass of fake accounts working to steer public discourse for their own agenda.
In many cases this has a political slant – one study in Germany found thousands of ‘fake profiles’ sharing Far Right information from political party AfD. And with Facebook being pulled up by Government’s around the world over privacy and data, as well as the part it plays in the dissemination of fake news, beginning to clear the platform of ‘bad players’ is one (tiny) step toward addressing those concerns.
What’s the risk to your ‘work’ profile?
The risk is pretty clear: if you have a secondary profile on the platform then you’re at risk of losing it in the cull of fakes. If that profile is the one with admin permissions to your organisation’s page, then along with the profile goes access to those pages. Not a situation you probably want to be explaining to your manager, but one which does occur.
The issue of secondary profiles comes up in every Vital Facebook Skills workshop I run with Dan Slee. There is always someone who is accessing the platform this way, and managing their Page and other activity off the back of a work account. There’s no malice or misdirection intended, and they aren’t really what Facebook is looking for when they try to remove ‘bad players’ but wanting a distinction between personal and private sadly won’t stand up to Facebook’s Terms of Service if the worst happened.
What should you do if you have a secondary profile?
The first thing to do if you’re managing an organisational Page is make sure your real account is also listed as an admin. This way, if you’re secondary one disappears you (hopefully) won’t lose access to the Page along with it.
Once you’ve done that it’s time to look at Facebook Business Manager as a way to look after access and permissions while keeping a clear boundary between your personal and professional online lives. Bonus if you have budget and are running Ads, you can do this through here (via Ads Manager) too.
And if you know others in your team are using secondary accounts you need to go through the same steps with them. Security throwing you some shade about having access to business profiles via personal devices and passwords – uh-huh, Facebook Business Manager is there for them too, along with some staff awareness and policies about how to behave.
The personal / professional divide
You’re not alone in having set up a secondary profile, or being wary about letting it go. There’s many a comms professional who’s gone this route, or inherited this method, and many a time it’s to keep a boundary between personal and professional.
In some public sector roles being open about your job and who you work for could put you, or others, at risk but using your real and only profile to log in, doesn’t make your connection to an organisational Page explicit. Business Manager protects your identity further so you’re only managing Pages and related activity and not just ‘on Facebook’.
Do organisation’s recognise the way the world works now, and the deep impact social media and digital has had in a practical sense on comms professionals and those managing profiles? Probably not. But until it catches up take the right steps to make sure you’re set up right, and you don’t have to have an awkward conversation about how you’ve lost access to the corporate presence on Facebook because you knowingly breached Terms of Service.
Need a hand?
If you need a hand with anything do get in touch. I’m happy to take a look at what you’re currently doing, help you set up something new, or come in and share some knowledge with you and your team. You can get in touch with me here and find out who else I’ve helped out recently here.
You can find the next dates for the Vital Facebook Skills workshops I run with Dan Slee here.