Yes, you heard it right – the Facebook overlords have removed my page, ‘Elle Beau the Anti-Blogger‘. If things go the way they did for Timeless Vie‘s Facebook page, its highly unlikely that it will be reinstated. 😮
How did this happen?
When a Facebook page is removed, the overlords rarely tell you the exact reasons why. In my case, I was simply told:
“Your Page has been unpublished, which means it’s only visible to people who help manage your Page. This happened because the Page doesn’t follow one or more of the Facebook Pages Term(s).”
So, I appealed.
“I don’t understand why you have unpublished my page. Whenever anything is posted by me, ALL names and photos are CENSORED OUT from screenshots. Therefore, no individuals are targeted or identified. This page concentrates on bad practices within the MLM industry, NOT individuals. Please do let me know where I have appeared to breach your community standards, so it can be rectified. The Anti-MLM Coalition is doing essential work to stop others from being exploited, so I sincerely hope you aren’t trying to silence us.”
Facebook were extremely forthcoming at explaining exactly where I had failed to follow their so-called community standards.
“…We’ve reviewed your Page and confirmed that it still violates the Facebook Pages terms. As a result, your Page remains unpublished…”
Thanks, Facebook. Helpful, as always.
What are the Facebook Pages Terms? You can find the full list here, but let’s specfically take a look at Section 2: General policies for pages, groups, and events. I have pasted them below here, in blue. My thoughts are in purple.
1. Misleading or false Pages, groups or events
Pages, groups and events must not be misleading, fraudulent or deceptive (example: Scams, A group that makes a false promise of money if you join)
What, like every damn MLM company on the planet? No!
Pages, groups and events must not impersonate or falsely represent a brand, entity or public figure. Where a Page, group or event is being used to express support for or interest in a brand, entity or public figure, it must make clear in the name or description that it is not an official representation.
I’m definitely Elle of the House Beau. First of her name. No imitations, bitches.
Pages, groups and events must not facilitate or promote online gambling, online real money, games of skill or online lotteries without our prior written permission.
No – quite the opposite, actually.
4. Inaccurately tagged content
Pages, groups and events must not inaccurately tag content or encourage users to inaccurately tag content.
That’s another no. #antiMLMmovement is a very accurate tag for us all.
Pages, groups and events must not incentivise people to misuse Facebook features or functionality (example: encouraging users to give false reviews in return for free goods)
Again, absolutely not – all my page likes are from organic growth, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
So…I can’t see anything untoward here. I also took a quick peruse at Section 5: Pages Specific Policies. As before, I have pasted them below here, in blue. My thoughts are in purple.
1. Platform Policy
Apps on your Page must comply with the Facebook Platform Policy.
To the best of my knowledge, I do not have apps on my page…!
2. Page names
Page names must not include profanity, excessively incorrect grammar or punctuation, and must not consist solely of generic terms or locations.
I’m guessing only a pro-MLMer could find the name ‘Elle Beau the Anti-Blogger‘ offensive!
3. Content visibility
Content posted to a Page is public and can be viewed by everyone who can see the Page.
Well, that’s a given, right?
4. Third-party brands in cover and profile photos
Your Page’s cover photo or profile picture must not include third-party products, brands or sponsors.
Hmm…perhaps Facebook are upset because the Younique logo was visible in my cover photo? Heck, I was only celebrating the fact I got blocked by Younique Corporate!
Showmarks on show Pages must accurately represent the show, and must not represent the parent entity or network.
Not a show page, so this doesn’t apply.
6. Online pharmacies
Pages must not promote the sale of prescription pharmaceuticals. Pages for online pharmacies may be permitted with Facebook’s prior approval.
Definitely not an online pharmacy either!
7. Age gating
You must restrict access by age using Facebook Page gating functionality as necessary to comply with applicable laws and regulations.
OK? Only over 18’s can legally be duped into MLMs anyway…
8. Post preview
When sharing a third-party link from your Page, you must not edit any elements of the post preview.
Didn’t know that was even possible, so nope, haven’t done that.
9. Upload functionality
You must not misuse Facebook’s upload functionality in connection with your Page (example: uploading a static image as a video)
Nope, haven’t done anything like that either.
10. Name change and merges
Name changes and merges must not result in a misleading or unintended connection and must not substantially change the Page’s subject matter
Never needed to change my page name, nor merge it.
11. Regulated goods
Pages promoting the private sale of regulated goods or services (including firearms, alcohol, tobacco, or adult products) must restrict access to a minimum age of 18.
We definitely don’t do that here.
So what is Facebook’s problem? I have my suspicions…
Could it have been a mass-reporting attack?
Its highly likely. I have my suspicions, even more so when I think of how Timeless Vie lost their original Facebook page. Not even a petition could get Facebook to reverse their decision.
What exactly is the not-so-gentle art of mass-reporting? The article “Mass reporting can shut down your opponents on Facebook” (Matt Nurse, Communication Science) explains it all so very well.
“[In 2016] a pro-science Facebook page with more than 70,000 followers was shut down because a mass complaint was organised by people who took offence at what was written there. These reports triggered an automatic response from Facebook that removed the page without human oversight.”
Now, I certainly didn’t have as many followers as that…but, I can only assume that an influx of page reporting has caused my page to automatically be removed, with no real explanation.
“Of course this isn’t confined to health or science pages. Anyone with enough organisational ability can apparently take down any [Facebook] page they don’t like,” writes Nurse.
In “Facebook Blocks Posts From Atheist, Ex-Muslim Pages” (John Bonazzo, Observer) we are told that “Atheist Republic (1.6 million likes), Ex-Muslims of North America (24,000 members) and 10 other groups which are affiliated with nonprofit atheist organisations” have all felt the sting of mass-reporting.
“Facebook allegedly unpublished these pages and blocked posts from appearing in News Feeds for a week because the pages violated the site’s terms of service,” says Bonazzo. “The site did not specify which standards were violated; however, Facebook’s community standards state that if enough people flag a page it will be taken down automatically.”
Notably, the Internet’s most trusted scam buster, Ethan Vanderbuilt, also found himself on the receiving end of such an attack, but not just on Facebook. He advises that his YouTube channel was recently taken down, but thankfully reinstated.
What exactly could Facebook’s problem be?
Listen carefully, because this is important.
My followers frequently message me with various screenshots they have collected, for me to use on my page. If I use them, I always follow the same rules we ask our guest writers to abide by on MLMTruth.org:
- We do not allow individual MLM presenters to be targeted or wholly identified — the issue is with what MLM presenters say, not what they look like.
- As standard, we ensure all names and identifying features are changed to protect identities, unless it is implicitly relevant to the article or available in the public domain (example, celebrities, CEOs of MLM companies etc).
- Any screenshots you submit must have identifying names and avatars redacted.
- If you submit screenshots of a conversation thread, use a different colour for each speaker, so the thread can be followed.
Key points being:
We do not allow individual MLM presenters to be targeted or wholly identified
As standard, we ensure all names and identifying features are changed to protect identities
Plain and simple, right? I cannot stress this enough: we do not allow the names and photos of individuals to be published on our social media pages, unless the information is already available in the public domain (example, celebrities, CEOs of MLM companies etc).
Basically – I do not know what Facecrap’s problem is. Clearly, its perfectly fine for pages depicting graphic violence and shitty MLM products to remain, but not those who try to provide support for those exploited by these scams.
When this happened to Timeless Vie, they believed it could have been retaliation by either pro-MLM industry participants, or “others who were unhappy with the campaign’s ability to change the conversation around women, Mormonism, feminism and multi-level marketing companies.” For examples of their previous successes, please see “Major Charity Foundation drops MLM “Safe Girl” from awards after outcry” or “Social Selling company Stella & Dot loses partnership after outcry on social media.”
If you fancy a read (trust me, there’s a lot to take in), I have written my suspicions on how I think my page got reported.
Rant impending. If you don’t fancy the read – click away now!
Taking exception to (censored) screenshots
A few days ago, a follower and fellow anti-MLMer called ‘Corky’ (who has been known to me for a very long time), sent me some screenshots from a Younique presenter group she was a member of. She is a regular contributor, and an ex-presenter herself. The group in question? Some kind of closed-privacy group, to discuss reported incidents of bullying from Black Status Younique presenters towards their downlines – basically, in-team bullying. This was the 15th June 2018.
For those not familiar with the Younique lingo – Black Status presenters are the crème de la crème of their field. The ‘top dogs’, the ‘bee’s knees’ – basically, the ones at the top pinnacle of the pyramid, with hundreds upon thousands of downlines aspiring to be them.
So, apparently, its not cool that they are lording it over those working so hard, just to give them their “circle royalties” paycheck. This was allegedly the group in question:
As before; I am not interested in naming individuals, but I am interested in the fact Black Status presenters are allegedly abusing their so-called positions of privilege.
You know what, their names and photos were NEVER revealed by me – so I will show you my posts here. If you want to report me to WordPress for it, then so be it.
This was originally by a woman who I will refer to as ‘Salty’:
The transcript reads:
“Ladies… I have spoken with the attorney at Younique regarding the bullying and harassment that so many women have endured. I addressed that this is a serious, serious issue that has been ongoing for quite some time. I advised her that no less than two dozen women have reached out to me in the last 48 hours who have been bullied and harassed. She has requested that I email her any copies of text messages, emails, etc. that anyone who has been bullied or harassed has. My email address to forward this information to me is [redacted].
I’m not 100% confident that Younique is going to do anything, even after speaking with the attorney, but I will give them the opportunity to do the right thing. If not, I promise you that I will take this public. This must stop and the only way it will stop is if we stand up and fight it together.
As we said in the Army…I’ve got your six! Let’s do this. Let’s stop the bullying.
Lady – this is Younique we are talking about – they don’t even know HOW to “do the right thing.”
The next image from Salty says:
“Ladies…as a follow up to my post from yesterday. I have been in contact with the Senior Vice President of Corporate Legal at Coty. If you have been harassed, or know of someone who has been harassed while a presenter at Younique, please PM me.“
“Why is it necessary to drag this drama out?” asks a member. “Honestly am curious…”
“You may consider it drama, but to the women who have been harassed it is far from ‘drama’ and given I have a phone call scheduled for tomorrow with Younique’s legal counsel regarding this, I would say yes it is. Cyberbullying at this level is illegal and an extreme serious matter which needs to be addressed.“
“But its not Younique doing it,” replies the member. “You have moved on and have long ago…”
Obviously I can’t show you any more, because that’s where Corky’s screenshot supply ends.
I edited the transcript to remove names and photos, shared them with my followers, and we had a good old discussion about them – just like we always do…
“THEY feel bullied?! 😂 seriously, I had a minor whinge that a former friends posts were getting on my tits and the makeup wasn’t great and the next thing the hun’s ‘friends’ were unleashed on me like a pack of rabid dogs, (with her directing them to my profile, tagging me in her posts and made a video about me). My old website was DOS attacked, huns were messaging my friends, trying to find out where I lived so they could ‘kick my head in’, telling me to go kill myself, the usual ugly/fat/worthless name calling, trying to find out where I worked so they could email my boss and get me fired… it was absolute madness for a week… and they’re feeling sensitive because…??“
Some misunderstood at first, and thought that these presenters were making allegations that ‘we’ (the prospective
victims customers) were the bullies.
“I’ll stop the alleged bullying when they stop bombarding people’s inboxes with unsolicited spam. When they stop using personal Facebook pages to peddle overpriced crap. Not just Younique…“
However, most people instantly realised they were talking about bullying amongst themselves – their supposed ‘Y-sisters’.
“When you think about it, this is great. Every time one of these hun bots calls the attorney, Younique gets charged a shit ton of money. You know that attorney probably has an hourly rate of $500.“
“This makes zero sense. They are independent contractors of Younique…they don’t work for them […] my workplace attorneys are not going to legally represent me in what goes on in my personal life. Hire your own.”
“But they are representing the brand. Your workplace attorneys probably would care if everything you did on social media was using their logo […] and then in the next breath doing nasty things…”
With that, nothing much was thought of it. That is, until 24th June 2018, when I was given the heads-up that some of these bullied presenters were now in receipt of cease and desist letters. This had been published by the ‘Anonymous of MLM’ website, MLM Confidential. Naturally, the #antiMLMmovement is always about keeping our followers informed, so I shared their link to my page.
As you can see, it automatically adds a “preview” to the post when published. The blue boxes hide the information of the bullied presenter. The other boxes hide the names of two Black Status presenters. For the purpose of this post, I have added the purple and pink boxes myself. However, at the time of me sharing this, the only things censoring information were the blue boxes (presumably added by the person(s) behind MLM Confidential). This preview is relevant as this story goes on – but remember: the pink and purple boxes were not there at the time of posting!
My followers found the cease and desist letter utterly ridiculous.
“Wow, okay. Except its not illegal to speak the truth.”
“I’m 100% sure I know which Black Status is the culprit. She’s pure evil.”
As well as this supposed lawyer not being able to state the correct date, their use of wording also came into question.
“‘Govern yourself accordingly’ Say what now?! Sounds just like a playground bully who might have read a dictionary at some point.”
“LOL I wonder if they actually hired lawyers or if they just wrote it themselves. If it was lawyers, they should probably try to find a lawyer who knows the law and the difference between what is legal and what isn’t.“
You can still view the original “Cease and Desist – Younique” post, but you will see that MLM Confidential have since removed the image of the letter, which likely happened around 26th June. Their explanation says “the letter has been removed, as it has come to light that the person the cease & desist letter was sent to did not give their permission for it to be published here…”
Let’s backtrack to the evening before, 25th June. This is when shit appears to have hit the fan. Corky (who originally submitted the screenshots about bullying) messaged me in a panic. It turns out that the group members had discovered the cease and desist share on my page, and by process of elimination, deduced it was her who leaked it – she had been swiftly booted from the group by ‘Salty’, was receiving a barrage of angry messages and was now understandably shaken.
Corky asked if I would consider deleting my share of the letter, as “maybe it would stop them being angry” at her. But, I thought, why? The letter wasn’t published by my website, I was merely sharing it and keeping my followers informed – after all, that’s what they follow my page for!
I chatted with Corky, until she felt a bit calmer. She said she intended to block all members of this bullying group, to stop any further angry messages (turns out she went a step further, and decided to delete her profile!)
In the meantime, Salty, who I believe to be the bullying group’s admin, decided to message me (interestingly, she has also jumped ship to Maëlle (aka Faëlle)!
“Please remove my posts from your blog. They were posted in a closed and secret group and you were not given permission to post them on your blog.”
I am not going to lie, Salty instantly got my back up. Due to my earlier conversation with Corky, I presumed she was referring to the cease and desist letter – something that was posted on a website I didn’t own, by an entirely different entity.
I informed her as such – but it turns out she also wants the screenshots from Corky taken down too.
“I have removed [Corky] from my groups as she did not have permission to share anything from closed or secret groups.”
Interestingly, Salty says “I know that she runs the MLM Confidential blog” – something that Corky definitely smirked at – she said she merely sent the cease and desist to them. Salty then goes on to demand I remove the screenshots from my Instagram account. Again, I repeated that MLM Confidential is not my website, and that I just shared the link.
In the meantime, I am asking around my fellow anti-MLM contacts, checking where I stand from a legal viewpoint – especially when Salty is talking about “not having permission to share.” I wouldn’t intentionally want to break the law, but there was a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me not to delete them yet, especially just because “someone told me to.”
Salty won’t let this drop, though. She is telling me that “You have posted a letter, a cease and desist from Debs’ attorney. Your posting of this letter violates her rights and could get her sued since she was to cease & desist posting their names and you have now made them public.”
For reference, ‘Debs’ is the alleged recipient of the cease and desist. Regardless, I am not the one who physically published a copy of the letter – I shared the link – yet I am the one who “made them public“? Heck, it was made public the moment MLM Confidential published it.
In the interim, Debs messages me herself.
Now, I really do feel for this woman. She’s clearly terrified by a bullshit ‘legal’ letter from two unscrupulous Black Status uplines, and is panicked by it. Plus, she feels betrayed at her letter being shared outside her Facebook group. That’s understandable. However, as I explained to Salty, the letter was shared by another website. Even if I did remove my share, it wouldn’t stop the MLM Confidential post actually existing.
As you can see from Debs’ reaction, she clearly didn’t realise that the letter was published by another entity.
I gave Debs the link to the MLM Confidential post. Naturally, she is still very upset and confused. These Black Status women have managed to scare her shitless, and now she thinks that because the letter has appeared on this website, it must mean she has breached this supposed “cease and desist” order and “could be sued for something I didn’t even do“.
As she is part of this bullying group, I asked Debs “why those monsters at Younique should sue you for bringing up concerns” in the first place.
In the interim, I had consulted with my MLMtruth.org co-owners, and some of my other anti-MLM fellows. I wanted to provide an explanation on why I was unwilling to remove the screenshots from my own page, predominantly as I hadn’t published their names or photos. Unless my followers happen to be members of the FBI, I hardly think anyone would be able to fully identify them, nor persecute them. The only people who knew who they are, are those in this bullying group themselves.
We came up with the following, which was sent directly to both Salty and Debs, and posted on my wall for other members of their group:
“…A response to those asking me to remove certain screenshots/posts regarding internal bullying within #Younique presenter circles.
People often misconceive that things posted on social media with the privacy set as “private” are so, but in reality they rarely are. If you tell someone something, whether it’s on Facebook or whispering it in their ear at a local bar, you have just given that person the ability to rebroadcast it, and you’d have to point to some other circumstance to say “you shouldn’t have told that.” (ie. unauthorised use of intellectual property etc etc).
Many of us in the #AntiMLMmovement have been in the same position as you all regarding in-team bullying, and it’s a serious issue that we felt needs bringing into the light – which is what we have done here. If Younique want to try and sue an individual for merely expressing concerns, then that is surely a very sad state of affairs.
In this case, you will note that in the screenshots I personally have posted, all names and photos were blanked out as there is no intention to reveal anyone’s identity, or direct people to harass those individuals. I repeat: their names and photos are blanked out.
My page, and those of other anti-MLM writers, are there to serve news about malpractices within MLMs, and that is what these Instagram and Facebook posts are doing. Therefore, I do not feel it necessary to remove these posts on that basis. I understand this is not the outcome you wanted, therefore I suggest that if you are unhappy with this, then the fairest thing is for you and your group members to “report” the post to Facebook/Instagram and let them decide whether the post should be removed…”
Famous last words.
Debs was surprisingly okay with my statement, saying “I appreciate you writing this.” Although, she admitted that the people who have allegedly sent this cease and desist “scare her.” That’s not cool. I decide to try and contact the MLM Confidential webmaster on her behalf via the email at the bottom of their site, and see if I can get them to either modify their screenshot so the Black Status presenters’ names are also blanked out…or just remove the picture altogether. I also offered our support from the coalition.
Debs say it was “why I reached out to you. I just wanted to talk to you. This entire thing has to be rattled.“
I explained to Debs that I don’t name and shame on my blog/page, but the “anonymous website [MLM Confidential] wants to rattle the cage that I legally can’t.” I also urged her not to let these people intimidate her, although easier said than done. I appreciate how terrifying it is to have someone threaten you with legal action, as do many of us anti-MLMers.
What about Salty, though? Well, she was not as amicable as Debs.
Salty still seems to think it is my fault that MLM Confidential didn’t blank out the names of the offending Black Status presenters on the cease and desist letter. I repeat myself, advising that I have no control over what another individual/website posts. She also claims that my refusal to take posts down puts Debs in “legal jeopardy.”
I explained to Salty that those of my followers who saw the copy of the letter commented on how unprofessional and badly-worded it was. Some even queried whether it was indeed written by a legal professional. Salty is adamant it was, because “it was sent to [Debs] via email and FedEx.” She seems just as worried about getting sued. I still don’t see how they could be, from the screenshots I posted, or even MLM Confidential‘s post?
By this point, I realised just how late it was getting (3am my time). I said that USA-based anti-MLMers Mombie and the Sounds Like MLM But OK Podcast guys were happy to speak to them both, “regarding this bullying situation, and true validity of that letter.“
So, I went to sleep. When I woke up later that morning and checked my anti-MLM inboxes, I had been given the heads-up from Mombie that MLM Confidential had removed the image of the cease and desist letter. I don’t know whether it was because of the email I sent them, or whether Salty and Debs had got in touch with them. Either way, it was gone.
I messaged both Debs and Salty to let them know. In Salty’s case, perhaps I shouldn’t have poked that hornet’s nest. Even though the image is gone, Salty still wants me to take the link down! I’m sorry, but no. I explained to her that there is a good user discussion on my Facebook post, with helpful info (including what constitutes a good legal letter!!)
Salty doesn’t like this, telling me that “so since it is creating traffic on your FB post you won’t remove it. So this is about you and not protecting someone who might get sued […] now our personal conversations and posts have been made public for your personal gain, whatever that may be.”
Personal gain? Creating traffic? I’m not some damn YouTuber personality or beauty blogger with a sponsorship deal to make good. I tell her as such: “this is an anti-MLM movement page. [We] discuss bad behaviour and malpractice within the MLM industry. We give the public knowledge so they can make an informed decision before getting involved with these awful schemes.”
I don’t think Salty is very good at taking in information, or she only reads what she wants to see. I’ve explained, and gained several opinions, that just because something is posted in a secret-privacy Facebook group, it doesn’t stop someone having the ability to broadcast that information. If you really want to chat in private, don’t use Facebook! Use one of the encrypted apps out there – they’re not hard to find.
She has also been told several times that I will not take my screenshots down because all names and faces are obscured, and that MLM Confidential has removed the image of the letter.
She claims this exposes them both to “civil liability” – how? Just how? How can someone be sued for raising concerns? She tells me that she has “copies of this entire conversation” (well no shit, lady, so do I), and “if we get sued, you get sued.” Charming.
By this point, I am losing my patience. That is why I may have got a little pedantic over her “I really could care less” outburst.
SPOILER ALERT: Its “I couldn’t care less.” Sorry, its just one of my pet peeves.
I remind Salty of all the other former Younique presenters who have actually gone public and been attacked for it – listen to some of the disgusting things beauty bloggers Coko Cosmetic and Beau-Tea With Ashlee have had thrown at them for speaking out! Empowering sisterhood, my arse.
I even mentioned that Debs felt that this issue needs to be exposed, as per our conversation, but clearly that fell on deaf ears. Now, here is how I signed my page’s death-warrant, I guess. I repeated what I said in my original statement: “I also said that if you are unhappy with the posts being there, then the fairest thing to do is encourage your group to report my posts to Facebook. Let them decide whether the post is in breach of community standards…“
Its safe to say – if my theory, and what happened to Timeless Vie‘s original page is anything to go by – that’s exactly what Salty did. She and her members must have repeatedly reported the offending post en masse – it triggered Facecrap’s algorithms, they remove my page.
Its a setback, albeit a slightly annoying setback.
I’ll be honest, I don’t think they are going to reinstate it. I’ll just have to take that on the chin – I’ll be damned if Facebook thinks they can hush the anti-MLM movement.
What happens next?
Timeless Vie eventually went on to set up a new Facebook page, ‘Timeless Vie Emergency Shelter.’ Maybe I will do the same, maybe I won’t – although right now, I am beginning to wonder if Facebook even deserves to have anti-MLMers on its platform. Clearly it doesn’t appreciate the work we do. 😉
What I will miss is the regular interaction I have with my Facebook followers – there were a lot of you, and I hope you’ll be able to find me on my other mediums.
For sole Facebook users, I’ll still be contactable under our joint coalition Facebook page, ‘The Anti-MLM Coalition.’ I have various other social media accounts you can follow me on…although as Instagram walks hand-in-hand with Facebollocks, I do wonder how long I’ll be residing on there. 😉
They’re never going to stop me writing, though. 😉
Facebook, this one’s for you.