Facebook Addresses City Concerns on Page Names

October 1, 2012

By Gregory Minchak

In response to concerns raised by cities and NLC, Facebook has created a new escalation process that is intended to make it easier for cities to get information about a new requirement concerning city page names and about how to make the necessary switch.

Last month, an NLC article discussed how Facebook has been sending notices requiring changes in how cities identify themselves on the social networking service. The company's user rules require that page names cannot be generic in nature and many cities' use of their legal name has gotten their page designated as generic, which resulted in losing access to the service.

One of the major complaints by cities has been the poor communication from Facebook when requiring cities to make this change. Facebook has now defined a smoother transition process. NLC held a joint NLC-Facebook webinar in September for cities to understand the rules and for Facebook to hear from cities. Facebook has recognized the issue and has created the new escalation process.

If a city needs to speak to someone for more information or to assist them in making the switch, Facebook will now have dedicated staff to interact with cities. This moves the process away from the page operators who regularly enforce Facebook's user agreements. This switch should clarify some of the confusion encountered where some cities have received conflicting information and will give cities someone to work with them in finding a new name for the page.

Additionally, Facebook's notices to city page administrators read like form letters and were either captured in SPAM filters, or were seen by the recipient as a potential SPAM or virus and were deleted without any action being taken. Facebook is rewriting the letters to prevent this and provide more information.

Facebook continues to tell NLC that any city losing access to the service can have its page restored once the name issue is worked out. It also has reexamined the need for the policy and has decided that it will continue to ask affected cities to make the required changes.

Details: For background on this issue, please see the September 3rd article that discusses the required changes. For more information, please contact Gregory Minchak at NLC at minchak@nlc.org or (202) 626-3003.