Facebook Takes Down Local Community Page, Won’t Say Why

The Facebook movie page posted pieces about 1980s and 1990s action movies like this one. This second page started gaining traction before Facebook froze it, too.
The Facebook movie page posted pieces about 1980s and 1990s action movies like this one. This second page started gaining traction before Facebook froze it, too.
UAMC Facebook screenshot
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Until two months ago, Jourdan Aldredge ran a Facebook page with 140,000 followers. In early August, Facebook removed the page, which linked to Aldredge's movie club web page.

Since then, Aldredge has been trying to figure out what happened.

The website, Ultimate Action Movie Club, is a curated collection of articles and trivia about 1980s and 1990s action movies. The Facebook page functioned as a community and drove traffic to the website. Although the club's Instagram, Twitter and Reddit are still up, Aldredge has noticed roughly a 50% drop in traffic since the Facebook page came down.

“We don't make a lot of money; it's just like a side thing,” said Aldredge, a former Dallas Observer contributor and Austin-based writer and filmmaker. “If I was relying on it full time, that would be pretty devastating.”

Even after extensive research, Aldredge has no idea why the page was taken down. Facebook's original email told him only that his page had been removed because it violated their terms of use and offered him no way to appeal the decision or contact the company for specifics.

Recently, Facebook has stepped up efforts to take down pages and posts that disseminate false information but also come under scrutiny for doing so irregularly. Since he can't figure out a way the page violated terms of use, Aldredge wonders if he has been caught in some bizarre Facebook policy glitch.

In August, Aldredge flew to Belize for a friend's wedding. Not long after he arrived, Facebook notified him that his location had been changed to Belize. It's well-documented that Facebook tracks user locations and Aldredge thought it was odd, but he didn't pay the notice much mind.

But the next morning, Aldredge received the email that his Facebook page had been removed.

“A Facebook Page is a distinct presence used solely for business or promotional purposes. Among other things, Pages that are hateful, threatening, or obscene are not allowed. We also take down Pages that attack an individual or group, or that are set up by an unauthorized individual. If your Page was removed for any of the above reasons, it will not be reinstated,” the email reads.

None of the reasons above seem to apply to Aldredge's page, on which he said he enforced strict standards of decorum.

The Belize trip was Aldredge's first international trip in the several years he's run the page, and he wonders if somehow traveling outside the country triggered Facebook to shut the page down. The page's content — article links with movie stills and trailers — should be covered under fair use law, which allows for this kind of use in journalism and blogging.

Other movie club sites, like the A.V. Club, with a half-million followers, and Bloody Disgusting, with more than a million followers, maintain Facebook pages with similar content to what was on the Ultimate Action Movie Club page. Perhaps most confusing, a copycat page started by someone else is still up and functional on Facebook.

And yet, a second page Aldredge started to try to regain his audience was frozen by Facebook as well. Recently, Facebook added page transparency and standing status sections to its site. In the page standing section, Facebook says it will notify users who are in danger of violating terms of use, but Aldredge didn't see such a notification before his page was abruptly removed. The second movie club site is in good standing, but Facebook notified Aldredge that it too closely resembles another page, likely his first page that was taken down.

Facebook did not return repeated requests for comment on this article.

At this point, Aldredge said, while he really wants his page back, he would settle for someone at Facebook simply telling him what is going on. Was it his travel? Was there something in a post? Was there some other obscure reason that the page actually did violate terms of use? If he had a specific reason, and could see that he'd done something wrong, he'd understand.

Aldredge started the Ultimate Action Movie Club in high school with some friends. During the era when Blockbuster sold off all its old VHS tape movies, the group of friends began collecting and critiquing cheesy action movies they found. Parsing Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme flicks was a fun group activity.

Years later, Aldredge started the Facebook page to continue the conversation online and eventually added the website and other social media. The page and community have been growing ever since.

“We were at the point where it might be almost a full-time thing,” he said.

But now Aldredge can't find answers to what happened or get another page going, since Facebook blocked his second one. With no path to recourse with Facebook, there aren't many options, other than focusing on his other social media platforms and the website itself.

“I'm kind of at the point where I've given up,” he said.

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