After nearly two months without the use of its Facebook page, the Victoria HarbourCats baseball club has hired legal help to solve the question of why it was shut down.
Facebook first “unpublished” the team’s Facebook page in February with no explanation other than for “violating community standards,” said HarbourCats assistant general manager Christian Stewart. It took until May to convince Facebook to reinstate the page, almost three months to the day.
It was already hard enough on the HarbourCats and all West Coast League baseball teams that they had to suspend the season due to the coronavirus, Stewart said.
Then on Labour Day it was unpublished again and remains that way.
The club is still waiting on specifics as to why the page was unpublished. In doing so, the HarbourCats hired a legal team that sent a letter to Facebook dated Oct. 15. As of Monday, they had yet to hear back.
“It’s frustrating for us,” Stewart said. “We had organically grown the Facebook page up to 10,000 followers. It’s a key tool to communicate with our fans during an important time, it’s our primary way to communicate with fans.”
The club has a passionate base of older folks who aren’t on Twitter or Instagram who enjoy interacting with the team, added Stewart.
“All we know of from Labour Day is that I posted an update, ‘Happy Labour Day, our office will be closed,’ and another post with the Prince of Whales whale watching. Later that day we were notified that we violated Facebook terms.”
The only explanation the HarbourCats have received from Facebook is that someone who is an “administrator” for the page had been “spamming someone” using the HarbourCats account to do that.
It was suggested by Facebook that posts were “tricking people” into liking the page, Stewart said.
However, neither the general manager Jim Swanson nor Stewart have been able to figure out who was posting or what the infringing posts are.
“We are at a loss to know who it is,” Stewart said. ‘Our best guess is there’s some legacy post that’s being flagged from the past, perhaps five or six years ago, that’s resulting in our page being shut down. They won’t tell us who the administrator is, what the post is, so we’re looking into legal action.”
The club could start a new page but after growing the existing page to 10,000 followers they are not interested in starting over, Stewart said.
“There was no warning about any posts or anything, just a complete shut down of the page. It is possible someone reported us, but we don’t know.”
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