Sleuth Facebook Group Takeovers

Depending on how close you follow the day to day of my life, you might know that I recently switched organizations – moving from Senior Consultant, Social Media at Academica Group Inc., to Web Communications at the Richard Ivey School of Business.

I left behind a Facebook account that I had been using during the development of Academica Group’s various Facebook Platform applications (SkoolPool & others).  Finding no way to strip the account of personal information so that someone else could step in as the account owner, I deleted the account.  Two months later I get an email about a stranger who has somehow become the administrator of an Academica related Facebook Group, and who has been using admin rights to blast out political spam to the membership of just under 200 higher ed professionals.  How did this happen?

If you are the sole administrator on a Facebook Group and you delete your account, the admin role is left vacant and can be claimed by any Facebook user who is so inclined.  This also happens if you leave a group that you are the sole administrator of.  In some situations this is ideal: if an applicant decides to attend another school or does not receive an offer of admission and loses interest in the group, another applicant (or school representative) can step in and keep the community going.  Unfortunately there is nothing stopping any other individual from doing the same thing.  And remember, group administrators can now change the names of groups – so really, an onion farmer could claim your Class of 2013 group and change its name to Jenny’s Ornery Onions and start happily sending out mass messages about her product to the group’s membership.

Take a minute to search for your brand and key words on Facebook and check if any groups have been abandoned by their administrators.  If you find any, claim admin rights and announce yourself to the membership:

“Hello, I am a school rep and I have become a moderator of this group.  Previously it was someone else, please let me know if you are uncomfortable with my new role here.  Otherwise, I’m excited to join you and hope to send out admissions updates and tips from time to time.  Feel free to use the discussion forum to ask any questions, or contact me at (123) 456-7890 or email@yourschool.edu”

Goodnight & Good Luck!

2 Comments

  1. Great post, Melissa. The implications are concerning but I appreciate both the tale of woe and the flip side on how to capitalize on this loophole. Many schools have unofficial groups so doing a landgrab in the absence of a former administrator can be key. Thanks!

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