Update: My message has been heard and our domain has been unblocked. Thank you everyone for sharing. 

In my spare time, I maintain an open-source SAAS tool for non-profits that allows you to build an online shop, sell tickets and register members online.

This week our domain got blocked by Meta/Facebook and I don't know why. In fact, it still is:

  • You cannot post to Facebook/Instagram when you mention our domain.
  • All Facebook events from the non-profits that linked to our domain (for their ticket sales) were removed. They lost all their exposure, and probably will sell less tickets as a result.
  • Not a single of the 700 non-profits are now able to share their webshop on Facebook or Instagram.
  • All existing posts that mentioned our domain are removed from Facebook.
Posting new content is not allowed. Even the photo doesn't load because it is blocked.

On Tuesday I started to receive the first emails from customers that complained that they couldn't share new posts anymore. All their existing posts were taken offline, ticket sales were halted because no one could find a link to their webshops.

At this point I just feel so powerless that I started to write this post. I'm angry and sad at the same time. The reputation damage to our service will be enormous.

I submitted the complaint form on Tuesday to get the block removed. I never got a response. In fact, the form even states that they won't be able to review reports. How are they going to unblock my site if they don't read my messages?

We had to submit this tiny form to request a removal.

Why are they blocking us? The content we host is completely harmless. No fake-news, crypto-currencies, violence, porn, or illegal activities, ... Just non profits selling stuff like tickets for an event, T-shirts, or food.

All the webshops are written in Dutch, because we currently only target non-profits in Belgium and the Netherlands. They look like this:

A simple cover picture, a title, a description and the products they sell.

This is already the second time

Last year a local internet provider (Telenet, in Belgium) also blocked our previous domain. At that time we were still using stamhoofd.shop as our domain name for shops. A webshop could be hosted on for example scouting-brussels.stamhoofd.shop. We reached out to this internet provider, multiple times, but they simply didn't understand because support people were not trained that this was a thing (I don't blame them, I do blame the company).

Eventually we had to switch to our current domain name, stamhoofd.be. The one that is now blocked by Meta. Is this a repetitive pattern, the new normal?

Why are they blocking us? The content we host is completely harmless. No fake-news, crypto-currencies, violence, porn, or illegal activities, ... Just non profits selling stuff like tickets for an event, T-shirts, or food.

How to solve this?

Blocking should be reviewed by humans, preferably locals.

I have a feeling our site got blocked because it is in Dutch and could not be understood by reviewers to do a proper review.

Or that some spammers mass reported a webshop of a non-profit.

We have a higher amount of incoming links in September/October (= start of season for many non profits in Belgium). Maybe that triggered some automatic spam detection.

A real human would never ever block our domain!

If you block something, you should have the resources to handle unblocking quickly

I submitted the complaint form on Tuesday a couple of times but never got a response.

The only way to go to the 'let us know' page to request an unblock is by going to the sharing debugger and enter your domain.

Notify owners when you block a site, include the reason.

Not a category or link to 'Community Standards'. A human should write the exact reason and link to the page that contains the issue.

Blocked a site by accident? Then you should be accountable and pay for the damage.

Yes they should. They make a profit of $36 billion a year. What other reason would they have to actually unblock blocked sites? It should cost them more than it costs them to hire people to review complaints.

I've reported terrible content that was never blocked.

I've reported pyramid schemes, fake news, racist messages, and other terrible content. Facebook never acted on any of my reports, even said it didn't violate their 'standards'. But this week they did manage to block my legitimate domain. How is this possible?

Why block a whole domain?

A spammer can buy and switch to a new domain easily. Real businesses, organisations and people can't.

Do we really want this gate keeping?

Why should a company have the power to set the 'community standards', and determine which sites get blocked and which not? Should any company really have this power? Isn't this whole issue the result of the monopoly these companies have?

Someday, your domain will also get blocked if we don't stop this now.

For now our only option is to switch to a new domain. But it is only a matter of time before this happens again to us, or you.

Our domain and 700 non-profit sites got blocked by Meta.