How To Tackle The Facebook Horses For Sale Ban
The recent crackdown by Facebook about horses for sale posts and ads are giving horse breeders, agents and dealers headaches as they scramble to cope with posts being removed from groups, pages, and profiles. We’re also hearing from our members of ads being banned and in some cases, suspension of their personal profiles which removes all access to Facebook for a period of time.
Facebook has prohibited the sale of animals via the platform for several years but in April 2019 the policy was updated and they began to actively enforce it. Click here to see the full details of the policy on the Facebook website. Here’s the most relevant part:
As we strive to protect the welfare of animals against illicit trades, we cannot always ensure their safety in a peer-to-peer transaction. We will still allow such sales if posted by brick-and-mortar entities, animal rehoming, and adoption agencies and shelters. This is an update to our existing policy, which already prohibits the sale of endangered wildlife and their parts. We will continue working to keep both people and animals safe and also plan on providing new reporting options on Facebook so that people can report content that violates this policy.
We’re in dialogue with Facebook about the definition of brick-and-mortar entities because we know that none of you are selling horses from a shop front.
Understandably, this enforcement is causing a lot of distress to reputable horse business owners who have found Facebook to be their best shop window for selling their animals. We’re hopeful that Facebook will find a more effective solution to protect horse welfare without penalising great businesses but in the meantime, here are three steps you can take to minimise the damage.
(As a side note, we think these tips apply to any equine business because relying on one sales channel that you don’t control as your main route to market is a dangerous place to be!)
1) Add another admin to your Facebook business page
If you are suspended or banned from Facebook with your personal profile, you’ll also lose access to your business page. Yes, that page that you’ve spent years and in some cases a lot of money on ad spend to build an audience! Adding at least one other admin means that your business can still continue, even if you are personally in Facebook jail.
Here’s a short video showing you how to do this. It’s mentioned in the video but it’s worth reiterating that an admin can remove other admins and in effect seize control of a page, so make sure the other admins are trustworthy!
2) Collect contact information
If you logged on tomorrow to find that Facebook had vanished in a puff of smoke, would you have any way of getting and keeping in touch with your friends, customers & potential clients?
Building a database of people who are interested in hearing about your stud or horses for sale is an excellent idea. One of the easiest ways of doing this is with email newsletters and yes these are still allowed post GDPR! If you don’t already have an email newsletter system in place then Mailchimp is free for up to 2000 subscribers and allows you to create sign up forms to embed into your website and Facebook page.
3) Get A Website
There’s been a trend in recent years to use a Facebook page in lieu of a website. It’s something we’ve cautioned against for all businesses. Your website is the equivalent of owning your own land, where you’re in control of what you put on it and who you let across the threshold. Any social network (including Facebook) is more like renting a booth at a busy trade show. It’s a great place to be but you’re only renting the space and subject to someone else’s rules and your presence there has no long term guarantees.
One of the factors that Facebook is using the determine if horse sales posts breach community standards is if they include a link to a business website.
Whilst a website isn’t something you can build overnight to help tackle this issue, it’s certainly something you should prioritise in getting sorted over the next couple of months.
A final note…
Unfortunately, some of the scumbags of the equine industry are using this policy as a tool in personal vendettas & targeting personal profiles to report posts going back many months and in some cases years. Those affected are being hit with temporary Facebook bans. If you are one of those being targeted we’d recommend restricting access to your personal profile to friends only. You can also change the settings on old content you’ve shared at https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=privacy where you will be able to change post privacy from public to friends only.
We’re in dialogue with Facebook about this issue, so if you’ve been affected by the ban, let us know in the comments below or by contacting us directly here. Understanding the scale of the issue and giving Facebook specific examples will help with shaping this policy into something that protects animal welfare whilst allowing reputable horse breeders and dealers to continue using the Facebook platform to promote their businesses.