The Westboro Baptist Church, best known for picketing the funerals of soldiers, don't really see eye to eye with most people. Their views are quite radical, and they often picket at the most inappropriate of times.
A story is circulating the internet today, claiming that the infamous hacker “Anonymous” has taken over Westboro Baptist Church's Facebook page (Facebook Fraud). However, this is not the case. Westboro Baptist Church doesn't even have a Facebook page.
The only pages you'll find are imposters, poking fun at the church group. Basically, all Anonymous did was create a Facebook page (Facebook Fraud) claiming to be the Westboro Baptist Church. It was created on December 16, 2012, days after the church claimed they would picket the funerals of the Sandy Hook victims.
But isn't this action illegal? Not necessarily. Here are the facts regarding imposter Facebook pages, and why you should choose a cheap server hosting option over a free hosting option, like Facebook.
Protecting Your Business From Facebook Fraud: Facebook Policies
When you sign up for Facebook, you must accept their terms and conditions. One of these terms clearly states: a fake name may not be used. You also cannot set up an account in someone else's name, let's say an ex-girlfriend, in order to ruin their reputation. Facebook will cancel the fake page, as well as your real account.
But what if you are setting up a business page? A Facebook page might be created even if your business isn't behind the page. How can this happen?
If someone checks into your business from a smartphone (and you don't have an official business Facebook page) a page is automatically created for the purpose of pinning a user's location to a map. This way, anyone can use that location in the future. If this is the case, it's simple to claim the page as your own by clicking the “settings” menu at the top of that page, selecting “Is this your business?” and following the on-screen steps.
If someone has created that page, you won't be able to claim it as your own, as someone already has.
Let's say you are representing the Westboro Baptist Church, and you've come across these fake pages, misrepresenting your organization. You can report them to Facebook to solve the problem by clicking the settings menu, choosing “Report/Block,” “Submit a Report,” and “This person is impersonating someone.”
Protecting Your Business From Facebook Fraud: Copyright/Trademark Infringement
If you find that someone is posting your copyright/trademark protected material, you can submit a claim to Facebook. Facebook will then remove the offensive material, and that poster will get to keep their account. If this person continues to post your copyright/trademark protected material, their account may then be deleted.
Protecting Your Business From Facebook Fraud: Identity Theft
Numerous states have deemed fake Facebook pages to be a form of identity theft as well.
Example: a New Jersey woman created a false Facebook account to misrepresent her ex, a narcotics officer, in a bad light. The state of NJ determined she was guilty of identity theft, especially given the fact the false postings could have destroyed his career.
Check the laws in your state to see what identity theft is defined as, so that you can take appropriate action to protect your business or brand.
Preventing Facebook Fraud
One way you can assure your company isn't the victim of such Facebook fraud: possess more than just a Facebook page. If you are a business, you should not skimp on web hosting. Yes, Facebook is a wonderful, free way to reach your customers, but if you have a website listed on that Facebook page, customers would be able to verify it is truly your company.
You don't have to go crazy spending a boatload of money, you can choose a cheap server hosting company. Cheap server hosting offers low operational costs, and is perfect for your small business.
Choose a package that suits your needs from a reputable cheap server hosting company.
It may not guarantee your business is safe from identity theft or copyright infringement, but obtaining a website from a cheap server hosting company gives your customers a way to verify the identity of a Facebook page.
Whether or not Westboro Baptist Church deserves the current Facebook attacks… is another story altogether — I'll let you take it away in the comments.