A New Problem for Christian Facebook Pages

[box type=”info”] UPDATE: November 2013 | A solution at last! An employee in our diocese found this great blog post detailing how to preemptively ban someone from a Facebook page. It requires the use of Google Chrome, and involves some simple HTML editing, but the steps are laid out nicely. I hope that it comes in handy for those who need it.[/box]

facebook-iconOur diocesan Facebook page is being harassed again. This isn’t so surprising (it’s happened before) but the method of the harassment is surprising (and a little ingenious).

A little background: Facebook pages operate, in many ways, like a personal profile. Administrators can log in as a page and then “like” other pages and posted items as well as comment on other pages. If a page is being spammy by posting inappropriate comment on another page, it’s possible to block the offender from that page. Pages that “like” another page can similarly be blocked. However, if a page only “likes” items on a page but doesn’t comment or “like” the page itself, there is no mechanism to block them.

That leads to this new form of harassment. A page with a vulgar (and, frankly, insulting to Christians) name has started liking items on our page:


It’s a little ingenious because it exploits the fact that the name will automatically appear without any ability for our page to block it. Of course we’ve tried reporting the page to Facebook, but Facebook is famously tolerant of such activity (and at this point probably doesn’t see “liking” as harassment). That having been said I’m not necessarily advocating for the deletion of the offending page. I recognize that Facebook doesn’t share my concerns or standards for community decency. But Facebook should at least provide a means to block such offensive and vulgar pages.

At this point we’re exploring other options. In the meantime we’ve posted this message on our page:

Dear Facebook friends: we are aware of a malicious page that is adding its name to the list of “likes” on the items we post. Facebook does not currently have a mechanism for us to remove it; we are evaluating our options. In the meantime you can help us keep the name of this page from appearing by “liking” items we post (this will hide it within a long list of names). We also encourage you to make your feelings on this matter known to Facebook. Thank you, and God bless you.

The response has been very supportive. But I would caution any Catholic organization operating a Facebook page that, for the moment, this is a very real danger that has no immediate solution. Hopefully I’ll have some good news in a few weeks as our diocese looks for a solution.