Facebook has banned the selling of administration rights for community groups. This happened after BBC News uncovered several incidents of people approaching group owners about selling their pages. However, the most significant story came about last month when in a West London group, almost everyone left when they found out the admin had sold it. The group had around 25,000 members.
Buyers have also admitted that they buy groups to promote businesses. Selling unofficial ad space on Facebook is also a thing. However, Facebook claims that this practice falls under the ‘spam’ section of its Community Standards rules. It is not clear whether there is a specific sentence that does it.
Response by Facebook:
A Facebook representative said:
“We do not allow people to sell site privileges on Facebook, which includes selling admin roles or space on a page or group to display a third-party ad. We disabled the account reported to us by the BBC in November and urge our community to report cases like this so we can investigate and take swift action.”
Facebook users generally set up community groups in a locality. These groups bring together people of a certain area and give them a platform to relate and converse. The joining and posting in these groups is voluntary. Other than simply being a place for them to come together, members also use these groups to buy and sell. They can also discuss any upcoming events in the area or discuss their local issues.
Jon Morter runs a local community group in his home county of Essex. Essex has about 30,000 members. He also belongs to one that is for other group administrators. He said:
“A few weeks ago, a member posted to say someone had approached and offered to buy their group. Another member then pointed out that they had been approached as well. Lots of us all dived in and realised it was the same bunch of people. We investigated [and found] that there are at least five, possibly more, local sales or community groups that this lot now own. They also say, ‘If you want to put your advert on the banner, we’ll charge you.”
BBC News contacted someone in the UK who buys local groups. They said they did so to showcase their own business and allow it “exclusivity” but added that group members were also allowed to promote their own companies, free, in their posts.
Other businesses were also invited to buy promotion by sponsoring the group’s cover photo – the large photo at the top of each page – but not many did, the buyer said. Mr. Morter said administrators should not make money out of groups. Mr. Morter also runs various music group fan pages and says that back in 2014 he was offered $4,000 (£3,100) from a US company to hand over the rights to one of them. He did not sell the page.
He said that he had read Facebook’s Community Standards and could not see anything about whether or not the practice of buying and selling group rights was permitted.