facebook_128A change to Facebook is having an unintended impact on Charity / Non-profits, Howard Lake of UK Fundraising let me know that the change was already having a negative impact on charities.

Let me explain what has happened, Facebook created a system called "Pages" a few years ago this system was supposed to be used by Brands to build a place where normal users could connect and reference that brand.

What Facebook didn't count on was users creating Pages for all sorts of purposes including creating negative pages about a brand or personality.
To solve the problem a few weeks ago they created "Community Pages" these pages are created automatically by Facebook and have NO ADMIN.

They aggregate mentions of the keyword matching the page so a page for "Cancer" shows any public mention by any Facebook member for that keyword, it's not just for brand keywords but also personalities as well.

Here is where it all goes horribly wrong, Facebook have also created pages for Charity brand keywords as well, so now you have a Facebook Page that YOU control and another page with the same Brand name that you have NO control over, this isn't effecting all charities but seems to be based around popular keywords used on Facebook if you match the keywords you get a page (Lucky you).

Not only will this cause confusion but early indicators appear to show that the Community Page is shown more favorably in the search box as well. Facebook has really messed up and created an extra headache for already stretched charity professionals. My view is that Facebook have spammed their own index with irrelevant pages that do nothing to promote the core brands work or allow any sort of true connection with the charity,community pages are just a stream of keyworded updates.

It does show what users are sharing so in some ways it could be seen as useful, but at the same time it causes a massive problem if you have a negative reaction to a campaign you can't moderate any of the updates on the Community Page, on some updates you can comment but not on all, leaving you powerless in some cases to give your charities side of the story.

The ramifications of this change are huge, for starters where does the law stand on Trademark infringement by Facebook Community pages? Many charity brands are trademarked yet they feel they can ignore that when creating Community Pages that compete with a Brands controlled page.

What happens if a user says something Libelous and it appears on a Community Page, are Facebook Liable you would have to assume they would be in the same way as newspaper printing a story that is later found to be false. Facebook may argue that they are just a "Pipe" for users updates for my mind that would only be true if Facebook were not interfering in the flow of information, in this case they are actively harvesting potentially libelous updates and feeding them into an even more public location (community pages) and giving brands NO control or recourse other than the (Block, Report) system which as we all know is useless!

It appears to me to be nothing more than an SEO land grab by Facebook for fresh keyworded content, If I'm right expect to see Community Pages popping up in Google search for keywords shortly.

I get that they would want to aggregate certain keywords but really why create more pages when a charity already matches those terms and is the best place to connect users to that charity.

Examples the Nature Conservancy links originaly posted to this Linkedin Group :

http://www.facebook.com/thenatureconservancy [Official]

These are the Community Pages for the Nature Conservancy (all created by Facebook):

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nature-Conservancy/115128735168880
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nature-Conservancy/412818391787
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Nature-Conservancy/10595613610953

As you can see Four pages one officially created by the charity and three useless pages that do nothing but Spam Facebook search with irrelevant pages. Here are a few more examples of Facebooks system ruining charities visibility and lowering their chances of making a personal connection.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/WaterAid/106173399412917
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Big-Brothers-Big-Sisters-of-America/112664978747590
http://www.facebook.com/pages/National-Arbor-Day-Foundation/103799689659272

I feel Facebook are stealing the "Like's" of users away from charities Fan Pages and it should make changes as soon as possible to remedy this situation, what happens when a community page has more fans than the charity it claims to represent? Facebook has rigged the system to show Community Pages over the Original Brand Fan Page and it's really unfair.

I would really like to know your thoughts on this issue @JohnCarnell, have Facebook Hijacked your Brands Keywords? Do you feel it's a good move by Facebook? I've tried to keep an open mind but it's hard to see this as a positive thing if it causes confusion among users.