PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — A Jupiter family has a bone to pick with social media site Facebook.
They say they worked hard to build up their own business over the last two years and relied heavily on social media like Facebook to help with marketing their business.
But over the weekend, their Facebook page suddenly disappeared and it turns out, they might not be alone.
Jason and Charlene Mariner have worked hard to build their own business.
“We built this thing out of our garage,” said Jason.
“We’ve overcome a lot of struggles and challenges,” said Charlene.
The two — along with their team — have spent nearly two years pouring hard work into AdSkinz.
“It pays local drivers to display ads on their back window,” said Jason. “It’s also a highly effective way for businesses to get the word out there.”
With more than 3,000 drivers on the road now, they relied on Facebook marketing and ads to grow.
“We maintained a 5-star rating on the platform the whole time,” said Jason.
With nearly 100 positive reviews and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, they also spent big bucks on Facebook ads to find more drivers and clients.
“We’ve spent $40,000 to $60,000 bucks on it,” said Jason.
So as you can imagine, they weren’t happy to wake up Sunday morning to an unusual message from Facebook stating that their page was unpublished. It is no longer visible to the public and the family is unable to do anything about it.
“It was very vague, it said we weren’t in compliance with community standards,” said Jason. “But the way Facebook operates is, if you get reported, whether it's right or wrong, they shut you down.”
The Mariners believes it could be a competitor or a spam button on his ads were clicked.
“We’ve adapted a lot of our company to run off of social media, and for them to just take that away because they want to or for whatever reason, seems like a problem to me,” said Jason.
They’ve appealed the case with Facebook and have not been able to get answers.
“It’s very frustrating because not only does it affect our family but thousands of other families and drivers as well,” said Charlene. “At least maybe they could answer their phones or get back to us?”
Alan Crowetz, WPTV tech expert from InfoStream, said this is a perfect example of the growing problem of ‘Facebook jail’. It's usually used to crack down on offense comments and material or copyrighted content.
“Now, it’s becoming a very popular term online,” he said. “Unfortunately what’s happening is that with many of these pages being shut down, it’s not for a good reason. Usually, it’s an automated process. Or somebody complains when there wasn’t even a reason for complaining.”
Facebook has grown into a huge company over the years and now, Crowetz said they’re starting to tighten the filter on what happens on the site, mostly through automation involving computer algorithms set to look for specific issues.
And with the amount of Facebook users bigger than the population of many countries, he said it’s almost impossible to have an army of people clicking through every post, page, and complaint.
“But how do you tighten when the population on Facebook is in the jillions?” he said. “I suspect the majority of these are automated computer systems. They simply don’t have the staff or the manpower to do it. But they also have a responsibility, they’ve become a huge platform.”
On Facebook's Help Center, the company states that a page can be unpublished for the following reasons:
- Not all admins of your Page have authentic profiles
- Your Page posts content that may mislead people
- Your Page has a misleading name
- Your Page posts content that may mislead people who like or follow your Page
- The content posted on your Page goes against our hate speech policies
The Mariner family said they are not aware of their business page violating any of these terms.
Facebook has come under fire most recently in Senate hearings after the company announced it is launching a new form of cryptocurrency. The social media giant has been in the spotlight for several controversies over the years regarding privacy and cracking down on hate speech.
Despite the scandals, Facebook user engagement continues to grow.
As the Mariners sort through the issue with Facebook, they plan to continue daily business tasks and raising money for charity, including local trash cleanups and helping a little boy struggling with leukemia.
In the meantime, they also want to warn other small businesses.
"Beware, this can happen. Be sure to have a contingency plan in place,” said Jason. “And here’s a message for Facebook: Take it easy on local businesses. It’s tough enough to start a business in your garage and grow into an actual company. Give us a break, we’ve never done anything wrong. We want to be in compliance with your platform and do what’s right and we just want to make a living here.”