Ebert incident a reminder of Facebook's fatal flaw (for users)

Social networking giant removes film critic's page after comment about Ryan Dunn's death

Ebert.jpgSource: Facebook

For all the talk about how great Facebook is for personal, professional and business reasons, many of us seem to constantly overlook one crucial fact: Ultimately, we have no control over our Facebook pages. Roger Ebert certainly was reminded of that earlier Tuesday when Facebook removed his page, apparently in response to complaints about a comment he made regarding the death of Ryan Dunn, the Jackass performer who died in a car crash early Monday morning. Just a few hours before he crashed his Porsche, Dunn had tweeted a picture of himself and two friends drinking in a Philadelphia-area bar.

[Also see: The 10 biggest mistakes people make on Facebook]

Ebert's page was taken down after the film critic posted, "Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive," on his Facebook page. He sparked a firestorm of criticism from Dunn's fans and friends earlier after tweeting the same sentence on Monday. In response to the takedown, Ebert tweeted:

"Facebook has removed my page in response, apparently, to malicious complaints from one or two jerks."


"Facebook! My page is harmless and an asset to you. Why did you remove it in response to anonymous jerks? Makes you look bad."

The page soon was restored, making Facebook's claim that Ebert violated its terms of use somewhat dubious. But that's beside the point, which is this: Facebook has total control of not only Ebert's Facebook page, but everyone's. Rogerebert.com wasn't taken down, because Roger Ebert owns it and therefore has control. The same goes for any domain you own. You buy it, you own it, you control it. Facebook can't shut down your website because someone complains about you, or Mark Zuckerberg wakes up in a bad mood, or he's a big fan of some reality TV performer who met a tragic and untimely demise. Yes, web hosting companies also have terms of service, but you can always find one that will let you do pretty much whatever you want. And no web hosting company has a position of dominance similar to Facebook's in social networking. Bottom line: Anyone who's on Facebook is renting space and can be evicted without notice. The many businesses and professionals who use Facebook as the cornerstone of their web marketing strategies would do well to remember this.

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