Your website was blocked by Facebook from sharing on their platform. You tried to contact their support but don’t even know where to find the support page. It is a nightmare for any site owner. It recently occurred to me. Here’s how to successfully unblock a website blocked by Facebook.
I didn’t realize social media giant has blocked one of my websites until recently. It was just a small science blog that I wrote as a hobby. I tried to share one of the new articles on their platform, and to my horror, I found I couldn’t! It returned an error message saying “Your post couldn’t be shared because this link goes against our Community Standard“. Imagine my horror when I found out about this block.
Why Facebook blocks websites?
I have no idea why it has blocked my site. The blog is about science and technology and never contained anything that would go against the community standards. I wrote all my articles myself, and used only free stock photos, mostly from Pixabay, or photos that I downloaded from Wiki with a creative commons license. There was no spamming or hate speech. I know there is no way my website’s contents would violate the Community Standards. So why was it blocked?
Let’s look at how Facebook decides which websites or URLs to block. To ensure that links shared on its social media are not harmful to individuals or communities, it sets rules and guidelines known as Community Standards. Any website that goes against its community standards risks being banned.
However, people shared millions of links on social media every day. There is no way they could monitor and review every link shared on their social platform. To be able to catch any link with content that might go against community standards, Facebook uses a technology called AI, or artificial intelligence. It used an algorithm that would automatically review the contents of the links shared and decide if they breach the community standards. If the AI decides it indeed breached the community standards, it would ban the link. If AI thinks several links from the same domain go against the Community Standards, then it would block the whole website.
What would happen to a website blocked by Facebook?
In short, you cannot share articles from your website on their social media. Not only you, but no one would be able to share any of the articles or links from your website on Facebook. This also includes sharing on messenger. They don’t even allow you to share links from your website in private messages on Messenger. In my opinion, that’s a little too harsh. As more and more website traffic is coming through social media, this is a very bad situation for any website owner. You will notice a sudden drop in website traffic once it happens. This is especially bad for sites that rely on traffic to earn money, such as e-commerce or news websites.
What can you do to unblock a website blocked by Facebook?
Unfortunately, Facebook is never clear why they ban certain websites or URLs. You can never ask Facebook why it blocks your website. There is no warning if it happens. Therefore, unless you clearly breached their Community Standards, you may not know why they ban your site. My guess is that most sites blocked by the social media giant are due to AI errors. AI is not human. Even humans make mistakes. For AI they rely on algorithms and use probability to decide if there is enough ground to ban a particular URL. Although AI gets improved over time, it also makes a lot of mistakes. If AI bans a particular website by mistake, this is known as a false positive.
There are a few options for you if it happens to your site. The first thing you should do is disagree with Facebook’s decision. When you try to share a URL from a blocked website on their social media, it will give an error message similar to the one below. The message may be different depending on the URL you are trying to share. Click the “Let us know” link and you will reach a page where you can submit your argument to their decision. However, after your submission, you realized there is no guarantee they will review your website again to decide if it should lift the ban. It says so on the report form: “While we aren’t able to review individual reports…”
Next, head to Facebook Debugger. Enter your banned URL into the text box and hit debug. If they have blocked your website, you will most likely see the below message.
If you click the “Let us know” link, you will end up at the same report page that you have previously submitted your report. Don’t waste your time here again to file another report as they will most likely never review your site to make a new decision.
How I contact Facebook support to lift the block
I googled how I would be able to reach Facebook’s help desk. Everybody knows it is very difficult to reach Facebook for any customer service. It seems there is a way to reach customer service through Facebook Business Help Center. This is the help desk for those paying customers, that is, the advertisers. You don’t necessarily need to advertise on their social media platform to use the Help Desk. Simply use your Facebook account to register for the Facebook Business Manager account. Fortunately, I have a business manager account which I use for advertisement in the past. After registering for a Business Manager account, head to Facebook Business Help Center to reach the help desk.
On the Help Center page, if you scroll down you will see a link to contact support. Some people said this link is not visible to all users. Rumor is that only those who have spent some advertising money on their social media will see this link. If that is the case, you can choose to run a very short ad for 1 dollar. Many said this will enable the link visible to the user. I don’t have this problem as I have spent some on Facebook ads. Please leave some comments if you have encountered any problem seeing the link to support.
On the next page, click the “Get Support” button under the “Are You An Advertiser” heading. It will bring up the button to contact Chat with the waiting time displayed (mine was 4 minutes waiting time). Click the Chat button, and answer a few questions (see below for more explanation).
Reaching support staff through Chat
Before you can start chatting with the support staff, you will need to fill the support form and specify your problem. First, enter your name, phone number, and email address. If you already have logged in with your Facebook Business Manager account, this information should have already been filled up for you. Check that this info is correct.
In the next section, choose Facebook Business Suite as your area of question. I’m not sure if this is the correct category, but since there is no category on your website, I chose this category. It worked for me.
Next, enter your business ID. This is the ID for your Business Manager account. To get this number, visit your business manager page and log in with your account credentials. After logging in, check the browser address bar. You will see the business_id at the end of the URL. Copy this and paste this into the Business ID box on the support request form.
In the subject title, write “Facebook blocks my website”. In the description, explain what your issue is. Make sure you include you have never breached their Community Standard and you have legal rights to use all the articles and photos on your site. Then press “Start Chat”. This will open a new chat session in Messenger.
My Experience with the Support Chat
The waiting time was quite fast. It took about 3 minutes to get in touch with the support staff. He greeted me with a standard introduction, which I think was an autoresponder. I briefly explained to him what my issue was. He checked my site and confirmed that they have indeed blocked my site. He explained that it might probably be a mistake and that he will forward my case to the appropriate team. I was then given the link to the Debugger and asked to file a new request through the debugger. Even though I have already done it once before, I filed a new request as he suggested.
The whole chat session started at 6:02 PM local time and finished at 6:37 PM. He explained to me it usually took around 48 hours to get the decision. Imagine my surprise when I received an email from Facebook at 7:54 PM on the same day, informing me that they have removed block to my website! I checked by trying to share an article from my site. It worked!
Here’s the quote from the support email.
I am writing about your concern on blocked website. I’m pleased to inform you that we use a variety of systems to help detect and block abuse in Facebook including both human review and automation. The website was blocked as a false positive from our automation. We have lifted the block.
Form the time of the start of the chat session, it only took one hour and 52 minutes. From the time of the end of the chat session, it was a little over one hour. That was really quick.
Final Advice for a website blocked by Facebook
Although Facebook lifted the block on my website within a very short period, yours may be different. It may take several hours to unblock some websites. If you have contents that breached Facebook Community Standard, Facebook may instead choose to keep the block on your site. Therefore, before you contact the Facebook support team, make sure your site complies with the Community Standard. If there is no issue with spamming or community standards, then it would not take long to lift the block to your website.
If you have any experience with contacting Facebook support, then do share your experience in the comment below.