3 Important Business Lessons I Learned After My Facebook Account Got Deactivated

3 Important Business Lessons I Learned After My Facebook Account Got Deactivated

Last week Thursday, I hung up from a conference call and went on Facebook. I was already logged in on my computer so I just opened a new tab, but I got logged out randonly. I went to log back in and a page showed up telling me that my name does not reach Facebook standards and I need to add a new name. The name on my personal page is and has been Luvvie Ajayi. In the next page, where it asked me to enter a new name, I entered “Luvvie Ajayi” and I was told “your name was not approved.”

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That is my name. Luvvie is short for Lovette but it is not my legal first name. I don’t use my legal first name for business because it’s my Nigerian name and it’s hard for most people to pronounce it. And honestly, when most see it, they don’t even TRY. They squint, they stutter and they give up and they make it ugly. I’m fiercely protective of it.

The world knows me as Luvvie Ajayi. That is my name. So to be told by Facebook that it does not reach their standards (whatever those are) was like “WORD?” Meanwhile, others are on Facebook as Molly PeachesnCream Jackson and NeverGonnaGetIt Weisenberg. But Luvvie Ajayi is the one that’s flagged by their robots. Ok den.

Related: What names are allowed on Facebook?

So I was locked out of Facebook. And when I went to Facebook.com/Luvvie, the URL of my personal page, it said “Content Unavailable.” I panicked. HOLY SHIT. I wasn’t just locked out; my profile had been deactivated!

I have been on the platform since July 2004. The only time I haven’t been an active member was a 3 month span sometime in ’07 when I took a break. And I’ve had my custom URL since the day they announced them. I am a true veteran of Facebook and this was the first time something like this had ever happened to me.

In everything, there’s a lesson. I took away three very important ones relating to business, because as a digital strategist, I teach this stuff. It was my turn to re-learn what I already knew and I wanted to share.

3 Important Business Lessons I Learned After My Facebook Account Got Deactivated

1. Have someone you trust, and who is knowledgeable about social media, be admin of your Facebook page.

If you are running a Facebook page with a high number of Likes, you should not be the only admin of it. Why? Because if you get locked out your personal page, you are also locked out your business page. You should have one other person (or account) that you trust as admin of your page. Also, that person needs to be knowledgeable about social media so that they do not make costly mistakes, like accidentally posting something there that should have gone on their personal page. It’s like handing someone the key to your front door. You better trust that they won’t rob you.

This is why you need to trust them with your life because this is your eLife that they have access to. I was locked out of my Awesomely Luvvie fan page when my personal account was deactivated and it meant I had to miss a Facebook Q&A that I had scheduled since I couldn’t get into it. SUPER WOMP!

2. You own nothing and you are at the mercy of Facebook.

I have 2,700 friends on my Facebook profile and more than 30,000 followers. On the Awesomely Luvvie fan page, I have more than 290,000 likes. I have several other fan pages that I’m admin of and 2 of them have 11,000+ likes.

All of that is social currency. All of that speaks to a platform and a voice that is followed. And NONE of that is OWNED by me. Because at the flip of a switch or at the flagging by a robot or the decision of one human, it could all be deleted. Years of work could be flushed down the electronic toilet and you can be left with nothing of the capital you’ve built.

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We are at the mercy of Facebook and we own nothing. You have built a house on someone else’s land with no real deed so they can show up whenever they want and bulldozer it. What do you do?

3. You should also build your currency elsewhere.

Don’t build your entire business in a walled garden. What that means is that Facebook (and Twitter and Instagram) and every other social media platform are totally under the control of the creators of it, not the consumers. When your entire livelihood is dependent on software that is not owned by you, or really controlled by you, then you’re risking everything you’ve worked for.

Build your business elsewhere too. Have a business and money-making model that won’t fail or crumble at anyone else’s command. Your business should not live and die based solely on a platform like Facebook or Instagram. There are people who have created names for themselves and have 100K followers on Instagram. If their account is deleted today (and it’s happened), they’re creating an account from scratch. How do you get so many people to re-follow you?

Can your business survive if you lose access to your social media platforms? If the answer is NO, then re-think your model. 

Have a blog where you write your thoughts too and allow people to subscribe there. Many of us write Facebook statuses that are brilliant but people who are not on Facebook do not see them. And if we’re locked out of our account (like I was), do we lose years of brilliance? Thankfully, I have a blog (several) so I have already seen the value in this piece. And even as I was panicking, I was comforted because of that.

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Also, have a mailing list so the people who are on your fan page can still be touched (albeit, remotely) when you can’t reach them through your fan page. This is one thing I don’t push: my newsletter. So now I will. If you want to make sure you stay up to date on my classes, webinars and adventures, please sign up for my newsletter.

I’m back on Facebook now (WHEW) and it took almost a full day to get it re-instated. How? I had to log in using my real first name and then change it. Also, I know people who know people. That was the only reason I was able to get my page back so quickly. It was even the only reason why I found out why their robots flagged my account.

For people who don’t have friends who have friends who work at Facebook, they would be at a loss so I understand how lucky I am with that. There’s no Facebook customer service number you can call. I wish I could give you a “how-to” on getting your page re-instated if the same thing happens to you. It seems to be all about who you know.

Many people use nicknames on Facebook. Many people have privacy reasons that requires them not to even use their real names at all (like if they have stalkers). There are certainly a lot of implications here with people being disconnected because they aren’t using the full names on the ID cards. My account was flagged with probably thousands more. I was just lucky enough to get the quick fix.

Also, Facebook knows EVERYTHING.

Update November 2017: Facebook now allows you to petition changing your name. It requires you to fill out a form with your desired first and last name, and you have to confirm it with a “government-issued ID” WITH the name you’re trying to confirm. They also accept utility bills, library cards, and some other documents.

Filling out the form also requires you to list a reason why you’re changing it, which currently includes:

  • Language Change
  • Spelling Mistake
  • Change in Marital Status
  • Legal Name Change
  • Adding a Nickname
  • Gender Transition
  • Other

  • Anita S Jackson

    Great reminders/lessons learned! So they just flagged it because of *your name?!*

  • Christina

    I work in social media and when Facebook announced they would start really doing this we had to move hundreds of pages we manage to Business manager to protect against this. Running community management for brands and then suddenly no longer having access? Heart attack city. Have you considered doing something similar? I know you are a 1 woman operation, so it may not be something you can do at the moment. But a great idea for an intern or a trusted associate in order to prevent this in the future. Great tips as always. So sorry you got caught in it.

    • Amber Linn

      Christina – would you mind briefly explaining what you mean by moving pages to “Business manager”? Sorry – I don’t know the reference….
      Thank you 🙂

  • MarcusSun

    Thanks for this. I RAN to my fb community page Culture of Black Chicago
    ( shameless plug; I repost links to a lot of your articles; your friend Jada Russell loves it) and added a 2nd admin. immediately.
    Sounds like fb was on a little witch hunt….

  • Thanks for this post. This is important information.

  • Ingrid Sturgis

    Great post!

  • Oh boy, are they going to come for me too? I don’t want my real name on Facebook, dammit!!!

  • Erica

    A deactivated Facebook and pose all sorts of setbacks for a business. I do however find it ridiculous that Facebook won’t allow you to use a nickname.

  • Spiritual Matters CdA

    Thank you for confirming something I thought about – I worked tirelessly for almost a year building my friends list and moving them over to followers of my business page – then one day GONE! At the hands of Facebook! Locked out with their security codes not working to get me back on line – and, right before the largest time of my season (I sell faith inspired jewelry online)…No FB customer service even though I ran ads an they took my money. Now it’s all gone.
    Am I angry – yup! At myself for thinking that building a brand using Facebook was THE answer. I’ll never get back into my page – and FB keeps sending me notices of all the people trying to contact me. Hard lesson – I HATE FACEBOOK FOREVER!
    No wonder Z is so rich – take the money and give NO customer service or assurances. Great way to run a business – obviously he’s getting away with it.
    FB OUT! Good luck everyone.