Under The Skin: Dear Ben Nichols, what’s in a name?

Ben Nichols 001

So, you fall in love with music. Then you fall in love with a particular style. Then you fall in love with a particular artist. And hell, you’ve always liked great writing and being able to share your musical passion with others.

Pursuing your passion, you set up a Facebook community to share that love and provide a place where like-minded folk can congregate online. There you build up a following, all discussing, sharing, entering giveaways, posting videos and favourite songs; essentially, doing all the cool and awesome things that music fans like to do in the online space.

And having spent years building up that community and providing and sharing quality content, what happens then?

Why, Facebook destroy your community in one fell swoop!

So found Michelle Evans, founder and owner of the Dear Ben Nichols Facebook community.

A page dedicated to all things Ben Nichols and Lucero, and often legitimately sharing music from other artists working in a similar vein, it had built up to a group of over 3,000 people discussing and engaging with what they loved the most; the music of Ben Nichols and his Lucero bandmates. Ben himself was involved with the gang and often shared their activity via his and Lucero’s own media outlets.

Facebook’s beef?

That the community had been set up as a Facebook profile in Facebook’s early days, as though it were a personal page. Contacting Evans, Facebook said they had noted that the profile had a registered first name of “Dear”, that this couldn’t possible be anyone’s first name, and that the details needed to be changed.

“They said it wasn’t my real name and that I had to change or remove it,” says Evans, matter of factly.

Dear Ben Nichols Page Cap
Michelle Evans’ Dear Ben Nichols community on Facebook

Not wanting to put the community that she had spent years building up in jeopardy, Evans looked to comply with Facebook’s sudden and surprising edict. She tried using Facebook’s tools to convert the “account” to a “page.” However, bizarrely, the tool wouldn’t let Evans make the change. At least, not unless she removed the “Dear” part of the community name.

WTF? If it was no longer an “account”, what difference does a “Dear” make? What’s in a name?

Everything it would seem.

Ultimately Evans managed to create a page on Facebook called “Dear Ben Nichols”, using the name that she had struck upon and that so many people had engaged with and become a part of. But the issue didn’t end there.

Facebook, in their wisdom, deleted Evans’ old page before she had an opportunity to send a message out to the community members telling them what was going on, and where they could find the new community page. She was left with a new page, with few members, and no real means of communicating with the thousands who had “liked” and helped build the old community.

“They deleted the entire original account without giving me a chance to message anyone, save it or download a backup,” says Evans. “Fortunately I’ve managed to set up the new page, but now I have to get the word out and build up those followers all over again.”

Years of hard work. Years! Wiped out by nefarious Facebook in a few moments, seemingly on a whim, and for bizarre reasons. Goodness knows, no-one wants to be duped by Facebook profiles purporting to be someone or something that they are not, but that was obviously not the case with the now deleted Dear Ben Nichols page.

So, along with Facebook’s reprehensible experiments involving the emotional manipulation of over half a million of their users, their mind-boggling feed algorithms that keep you from seeing the content of the pages that you’ve actively chosen to “like” and receive messages from (unless, of course, the page you’ve liked has paid to have it’s content promoted in your feed), you can now add the brazen and willful destruction of an online community who were doing nothing more than innocently and legitimately sharing their love of the arts on a social media site.

Motherfu**ers.

Michelle Evans 001Michelle Evans is a music fan, social media consultant, writer and promoter based in Kentucky

You can find and “like” the brand new Dear Ben Nichols Facebook page here!

Find out more about Lucero and the actual Ben Nichols here!

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9 thoughts on “Under The Skin: Dear Ben Nichols, what’s in a name?

  1. Also, to address BigHead: Not a single person tagged the new DBN while it was called “Ben Nichols.” I had it set so that I had to approve tags and posts to the Timeline (to avoid spammers and trolls), and not one tag or Timeline request was made during that time. I also only made posts during that time updating followers about my attempted failed Page conversion, the steps I was taking to fix it, and also to tell people that the giveaway I was doing at the time was now being conducted at the Page. Even within those updates, I let people know what was going on with the Page conversion. I also left public comments in several posts and responding to several followers explaining what happened and that I was not Ben Nichols, sent private messages to folks as needed, and that I was working on it. I simply think Facebook should have taken all that into consideration and treated my account like a regular Page conversion when I reached out to them.

  2. Just thought I’d address a few things: 1) I did do back-ups every one to two days, and I have that content, but I do not have content from the last two days, which is to what Blackwell referred. 2) Facebook forced me to remove “Dear,” but then did not let me change it further. I would have just made a Page, but they were forcing me to call it “Ben Nichols,” instead of “Dear Ben Nichols,” the actual name of the Page. I contacted Facebook further for help and was denied any help. 3) This happened to Lucero Diehards as well, and the person who runs that account (now a Page) was given the option to change his account to a Page upon login, and I was not. I was just told it was disabled and was never allowed to log in again, so, no, I was not expecting that. Yes, I knew I was taking a risk, but I expected my account to be dealt with the same as all other account-to-Page conversions, and it was not, plain and simple. I am also not looking for sympathy, but I do think Blackwell’s article points out that Facebook could have simply helped me when I reached out to them BEFOREHAND in an effort to avoid all of this.

    1. Or you could have simply followed the terms of service from the start. You knew you were taking a risk but are upset when that risk didn’t pay off for you or rather when the payoffs were taken away. Sure facebook could have been nicer about it but they don’t have to be. How do address calling yourself a “Social Media Consultant” and having something like this happen. Maybe you could explain why you took the risk and if you would take that same risk for your clients.

      Honestly if you weren’t in the business I think people might feel differently but you are someone who claims to be an expert in these matters. Is this something other experts do as well and rely on the goodwill of facebook if they get caught with their hand in the friendpool?

  3. If the content was so valuable, why wasn’t she running backups daily? Also, she was using a free service to build her community. If you were a business and another business was violating your terms of service, would you go “oh hey, our bad for writing narrow based usage agreements, let’s help you figure out how to manipulate OUR customers and users for YOUR benefit?

    Grow up kids, grow up.

    1. Because a service is free at point of use it should be allowed to do as it pleases? That seems like a dangerous concept, “Trunkbar afficianado.” And let’s be absolutely clear, there was zero manipulation on the part of Evans or the Dear Ben Nichols group, so your point there is moot. Indeed, Facebook have been exposed as manipulative this week in their social experimenting, not the legitimate people, pages and communities that use the site.

      Facebook makes massive amounts of money from users and the communities that they create, so it seems to me that they would do well to treat their users and the online communities they build with a duty of care and responsibility. Their approach in this case strikes me as heavy handed and unwarranted.

  4. I think the real problem started when she changed the name to just “Ben Nichols” and started posting under that name. Then people starting tagging her in posts, thinking that it was him – and that’s when people started to see a real problem with it.

  5. The problem is that her page violated Facebook’s terms of service from start. Pages were introduced for exactly this purpose but she chose to not follow the terms of service that she agreed to and it bit her in the ass. It’s hard to have sympathy for someone who claims to be a social media expert but doesn’t understand that following a site’s terms of service is part of knowing how to use the site. She put all that time and effort in to building a following on an account that she should have known could be deleted at any time. Even before Pages were available, fb was clear that you had to use your real name. A self proclaimed “social media consultant” should know what can get an account deleted.

    1. On the face of it, a reasonable comment, Victor. But you don’t think that Facebook could have been more supportive or constructive in transitioning from “account” to “page”? And by extension, would you also condone Facebook’s recent experiments with the mood and mental wellbeing of circa 700,000 users because there was a tiny clause in their terms of service about users ‘agreeing’ to ‘research’? Just because it’s in terms of service doesn’t make it right, surely?

      1. Facebook could have been more reasonable and if the account involved wasn’t run by a social media consultant I would probably have a bit of sympathy. Really it all comes down to that. Yes she spent a long time and lot of work on that account but she should have known. Could Facebook have behaved better? Well yes, they could have, but in the end she agreed to some terms of service that she obviously had no intention of following and therefore it’s really her own fault.
        As for the other? I am sort of torn on that. I feel offended on some level but on another I feel like all of us should have seen it coming. I don’t care for just about anything facebook does but right now it’s the best thing going for engagement with family and friends. That doesn’t excuse their behavior or their erosion of privacy. et al but we still agree to use the site and abide by its policies. Using their members for research seems wrong and the researcher had apologized but it’s not shocking. I don’t think I would have done the same thing but somehow I doubt that matters.

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