The largest unofficial Facebook Page for Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo, with nearly 2.9 million fans according to PageData, has been removed from the Facebook site today. While we have not received official confirmation from Facebook, it’s possible that Facebook decided to remove the Page because it was not operated by Ronaldo or his authorized agent. Instead, it was run by Kunwar Ali, a big football (soccer) fan from Pakistan.
It’s another example of Facebook enforcing its policy on unofficial fan pages:
In How Do You Treat a Fan Who Owns Your Facebook Page?, we discussed the five options brands can take in handling unofficial pages:
- Ask Facebook to transfer control of the Page to you.
- Ask the Page owners to transfer control to you.
- Ask the Page owner to share control with you.
- Ask Facebook to shut the Page down.
- Let the Page continue to exist, and start an “official” Page of your own.
However, Facebook is being proactive with the biggest unofficial Facebook Pages, bringing them to brands’ and agencies’ attention directly. In many cases, they get shut down or merged – but occasionally, like in the case of Coca-Cola, the creators of the unofficial Page gets hired by the brand to continue managing the Page.
Ali told Inside Facebook he is upset about the Page disappearing because he has had previous contact with Ronaldo’s official representatives, who expressed support for Ali operating the unofficial page that he’s been managing for over a year. Ali says by publishing four status updates per day, the unofficial Ronaldo page was seeing 4,000 comments and 120,000 page views daily.
However, it’s possible that since that time Ronaldo’s agent has worked with Facebook directly to make a plan for the launch of the official Cristiano Ronaldo page on Facebook, which apparently seems to not involve migrating fans over from the large unofficial one created by Ali.
We’ll let you know if/when we hear from Facebook.
Update: Facebook has confirmed that is has removed the Page: “In the process of communicating with Cristiano Ronaldo’s people, we discovered that the page admin was violating our Terms of Service and so we removed the page,” a Facebook spokesperson told Inside Facebook.