Don’t set up a Facebook PAGE based on your domain name

I can now reveal, it’s official, Facebook are actually evil. I’m not just talking about the misuse of your personal data, possibly allowing foreign powers to interfere with democratic processes or even all those pictures of cats. Worse than that, if you allow them to, Facebook will attempt to hijack your web domain.

So, sit quietly while we have a short lesson on web domains and Facebook’s collection of options for profiles and pages. Pay attention, there’ll be a test later.

  • Web domains are the bit after the name of the web site, amazon.com, wikipedia.org and bbc.co.uk, are all domains. In these cases the domain types are defined by the .com, .org or the .co.uk part. .com is the most popular by far.

Facebook has two options for what people call pages.

  • A Facebook PROFILE is what most people have on Facebook. Rather confusingly people have always called their PROFILE a page because the web is full of pages. However, your personal Facebook account is actually a Facebook PROFILE so get used to it. My Facebook profile is on this link:
    facebook.com/jack.barrow.940 It’s a shame about the number on the end but I was born after the Internet came into being. Actually that’s not true, I was born at a very early age but didn’t get into Facebook until after some other people. There don’t seem to be 939 other Jack Barrow PROFILES but even I don’t understand how that works.
  • Facebook also offer a service to organisations, companies, charities, TV personalities and even products and these are, rather confusingly, called PAGES. These PAGES are the PAGES that people ask you to Like when they form a band or start a cookery club and they want to make it look popular. Facebook decided to call them PAGES, personally, I think this was a bad move but then so was the mankini but what are you gonna do? I have Facebook PAGES as follows:
    facebook.com/JackBarrowUK – that’s sort of the corporate PAGE for me.
    www.facebook.com/TheHiddenMastersAndTheUnspeakableEvil – that’s the PAGE for my novel about magicians trying to stop someone who wants to turn Blackpool into a seedy, tacky and depraved town.
    www.facebook.com/InSatNavWeTrust/ – that’s the PAGE for my upcoming book In SatNav We Trust – a search for meaning through the historic counties of England that is currently crowdfunding on Unbound. If you look at any of my pages look at that one please and pledge. 🙂
  • PAGES and PROFILES are quite diferent and allow diferent types of interactions so it’s not unusual for people who are selling themselves to have both. I sold myself years ago but I’m not saying who to.

Anyway, enough of the blatant plugs. When you set up a PAGE Facebook will ask you if you have a web site. Of course that’s not a presence on Facebook, they are asking if you have a domain based website. In my case that’s http://jack-barrow.com/ (increasingly modern websites do not use the www prefix). They ask for this grown-up website so that visitors to your Facebook PAGE or PROFILE can visit your web page on the WWW, or so you imagine.

But once they know your domain name they will offer you a PAGE named after your web domain website. This seems a bit odd when you think about it, as you already have a grown-up web page so why do you need a Facebook page of the same name? Dutifully, or perhaps foolishly, I created the Facebook PAGE for Jack-barrow.com and thought little of it. Well actually I thought a lot of it (negatively) as it became a proper pain in the arse to update what was, essentially, a duplication of the www.facebook.com/JackBarrowUK Facebook PAGE.

At this point you really don’t notice what Facebook are doing. All the links from any PAGES or PROFILES on Facebook that used to point to your web domain now point to the Facebook PAGE of the same name.  Effectively Facebook has now hijacked all traffic that would have gone to your non-Facebook domain name based web site out in the world of the WWW. If you don’t test the links you won’t know this has happened. However, the worst part is that if visitors to your Facebook PAGES or PROFILE click the link to your .com or .co.uk domain then they will end up on your Facebook PAGE of the same name and they won’t see any of the content you have carefully created there including your blog posts, links to your ordering system and all that stuff that is important to you.

At some point, before I became aware that this had happened, I became tired of repeating all the posts from my PROFILE and various PAGES on Facebook so I set the PAGE for jack-barrow.com to ‘Unpublished’. Setting a PAGE to Unpublished leaves the PAGE in place but users of Facebook can’t see it; it’s a step short of deleting the PAGE completely and you can still get at any content you’ve created. So imagine my surprise when I clicked the link in one of my PAGES that I expected to take me out to the WWW on http://jack-barrow.com/ and ended up on the now Unpublished PAGE.

So, get this, even if you unpublish your domain name based PAGE, clearly indicating that you don’t want users to go to it, Facebook will still hijack your traffic away from your domain based page on the WWW. That’s quite nasty. 😦

DISCLAIMER

Finally, I have to say I have now deleted the Facebook PAGE for jack-barrow.com so I can no longer test this. I definitely confirmed that traffic on my browser from my PAGE www.facebook.com/JackBarrowUK was being directed to the Unpublished PAGE. I did this a few times but I didn’t do this from another browser so I don’t know what would happen if I was not the owner of both pages. Horrified, I then deleted the Unpublished PAGE before I thought of checking to see if it also hijacked traffic from my Facebook PROFILE. (I don’t see why they wouldn’t hijack that traffic too as they clearly want to keep people on Facebook.) I’ve tested the links to http://jack-barrow.com/ that I can find on my various PAGES and PROFILE and they now seem to be working okay but it’s the devil’s own job to keep track of them all. All I can say is BE VERY CAREFUL and check any links to your external domain-based website. I really think Mark Zuckerberg is trying to take over the whole Internet. Heaven forfend!

(The page was www.facebook.com/jack-barrow.com don’t look for it I’ve deleted it, I hope.)

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