February 19, 2022

How I got my website back on social media

If you’re reading this post, you have probably seen me ranting over the last ten months on Facebook and Instagram about the fact that my website domain was blocked on those two platforms. Well, you are also probably reading this because you clicked on a link from Facebook or Instagram that brought you here. Hooray!!

I was blocked

In April of 2021 I had a client alert me that something wasn’t right with my website. I quickly checked it out, and sure enough, my site had been hacked due to a small vulnerability. I immediate contacted my web host who then proceeded to clean out the hacked content and then they implemented a stronger security. Great!

Soon after, I started noticing that most of my content on my Facebook business page had disappeared. Years and years worth of photos and posts were gone. It did not take me long to realize that Facebook had blocked my domain because it went against their ‘community standards’. All of my content that included that domain was missing and I then realized what was going on. I suppose that because my site was very briefly hacked that I was now a threat to Facebook’s users. Fair enough. The threat was quickly fixed, but do you think I was able to resolve this?

I needed to talk to a real person

I then started my quest to get in touch with the powers that be. I tried submitting numerous support tickets and I tried chatting through the app on the official Facebook Page. I was met with bots that could not help. I went down several rabbit holes on Google to see if this was a common problem and how others fixed it. I found email addresses that I contacted with no response. I even had a friend whose husband knows someone that works at Facebook, but all of my leads came back empty.

What was frustrating was that I couldn’t even have a private conversation through messenger with friends, family or clients and share my email address or website. It was blocked! Several friends or clients would get in touch with me to tell me they had problems sharing my website to their friends when they were referring me. That’s when I converted one of my other domains to act as a landing page. Anyone that found me through that other domain was able to easily click on through to this domain. The downfall to that? I was still not able to share direct links on social media to blog posts or other event pages. So, while that other domain was a bandaid, it certainly did not fix all of the problems.

Just last month, Facebook started removing images that contained an image of my domain. Unreal!

I had an epiphany

For months I kept trying to randomly post my website to see if it was magically fixed, but of course it wasn’t. I have had this domain for over a decade and have built great SEO so I was not ready to just surrender.

The first quarter of the year is always quieter and I use this time to plan for the spring sessions, prepare my taxes (fun!) and take on any heavy administrative tasks that I have been putting off. One of my recent tasks was planning some Limited Edition Sessions coming up in the spring. I thought it’s been a few years since I have used Facebook ads to promote my sessions so why not give it another whirl.

Soon after publishing my ad it dawned on me. I’ve heard of business accounts being able to chat with a live agent, but why was I never able to do this? And believe me, I scoured every corner of that platform and Googled until my eyes hurt. I went back into my Facebook Meta Business Suite, and lo and behold, there was a little flashing icon at the bottom of the page that said “Need help? Talk to us.” What??? Where has this been? I’ll tell you where it’s been. It was only made available to me once I started to pay for advertising. Yup, that’s right.

I mean, a free platform is under no obligation to help in such a way. Facebook could be gone tomorrow and that’s ok. I made the decision years ago to not do business on Facebook because I want to keep my paper trails confined to one place – and that is in my email inbox. I’ve heard of way too many horror stories of accounts being hacked or clients blocking photographers, or imagine the Facebook server crashes? And then what? You have no access to all of that correspondence and business history. I’m more than happy to chat with clients on social media but when it comes down to it, I always carry over the conversation to email and guide a new prospect to my website to get in touch.

Call from Amsterdam

When I was finally able to chat with someone at Facebook, it literally took three minutes to be connected to someone in the chat message. He was very nice and confirmed some info from me, and then he PHONED me! He phoned me all the way from Amsterdam! After confirming a few more credentials, he noted that my website looked just fine from his end and he’s sure the block will be lifted. He filed an appeal to have my domain unblocked. I was told that now we just need to be patient and wait while Facebook reviews the appeal. He followed up our phone call with an email and assured me I would hear within a few days to a couple weeks once the appeal has been reviewed.

Fast forward a few hours and my husband received a notification in his app that Facebook is sorry that it blocked his comment and it has now been unblocked. I then started to receive numerous similar notifications. These ‘blocked’ comments were from weeks, months, and years ago of posting a link to my website. My domain was unblocked and my content was returned to where it was before it disappeared!

Money Talks

So in conclusion, you can see that it was a pretty frustrating year jumping through hoops. To talk to a real person at Facebook its seems as though you will have success once you have paid a nominal fee for advertising.

Photo in collaboration with Amber Warren of Propmaster, https://propmaster.ca/. 2016.