Pressing 'Save' on a Facebook Fan Page

Why Brands Need to Think About Creating a Permanent Record of Their Social-Media Communications

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Facebook is forever. But it has to be, because it could be the law.

As business and government increasingly use Facebook and other social tools for official communication, creating a permanent record of what transpires there becomes as essential as filing taxes. Facebook just recently -- if only because of a privacy scandal -- created a way for individual users to download their entire personal profiles, including all photos, wall posts and messages.

Backupify provides data backup services for several cloud-based applications.
Backupify provides data backup services for several cloud-based applications.
But when it comes to brands, corporations or other organizations, Facebook does not provide this service and it is happy to let third parties step into the void. "Of course Facebook technology is capable of something like that, but it's not available for Facebook Fan Pages right now," said Facebook public policy manager Adam Connor. "We have gotten a fair amount of requests for this. It may be as simple as taking a screenshot of your page every few weeks."

That's opening the door to another niche for startups to fill, including Backupify, which this week released a feature that saves a Facebook Fan Page. "A company has all this information on their fans," said Backupify CEO Rob May. "There will at some point some sort of legislation requiring companies to back up their pages. This is information relating to privacy."

Others, such as Buddy Media, which has Facebook management tools for brands, also provide back-up services to their clients. The potential scenarios are numerous but one can imagine one where a Fan Page administrator could do something that is against company policy or simply go rogue, posting inappropriate messages.

"There are records and data that reside on a company's page," said Linda Goldstein, head of the Advertising, Marketing & Media Division at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. "And if a page gets hacked or if there is a disruption of service or if your account is suspended by Facebook, you would want to maintain this record for claims, lawsuits, government inquiries."

Indeed, recent hacks of BP's Facebook page are an example of some of the hazards of Facebook for brands. Other scenarios include a disgruntled company employee who is administering the page who may post malicious comments. With backed-up Fan Pages, the company has proof in case of a lawsuit.

"As long as you are with a reputable vendor I don't see any reason why that data wouldn't stand up in court," said Ms. Goldstein. "It's a way to transport that data and the preservation of that data is not left up to Facebook."

So now that these pages are being saved forever, maybe think twice about what you say on that Chipotle Fan Page.

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