Building Netsob: Episode 6 – iUniport vs Facebook

Street Fighter

This is the eight entry in a series of entries which follows Sorbari Akpea, a young, ambitious, Nigerian entrepreneur, as he tries to build the next internet giant called Netsob. The original post was entered into his journal at 10:22pm on the 27th of March, 2012. You can find the complete entries published so far here.


Today, something happened that caught me off guard: Facebook deleted our Facebook account – the one our subscription script uses to deliver our news update to our subscribers. Why? I have no idea. And the worst thing was that we had no backup of our subscribers’ details. Everything was on that Facebook account.

Immediately I noticed this, I created a new Facebook account and linked it to our site so our subscription feature will not be interrupted while I tried to salvage and gather as much of our subscribers data as I could from the previous updates we’ve sent out and subscribe them manually.

However, while I was still running around trying to fix things, I received another alert: Facebook has deleted our new account. That struck me hard and I just froze. Utter frustration began to creep in. Then came confusion. Then rage.

Why was Facebook deleting our accounts?!!! We didn’t do anything wrong.

Or did we?

I went straight to Facebook Help Centre and began to read their lengthy Term of Use. At that moment, I assumed we were doing something we didn’t know was wrong, like accidentally infringing one of Facebook’s Terms. And just as I thought, there it was, clearly written in Facebook Term of Use, that personal profiles are to be owned and run by a real-life person, not an organisation. And the account we’ve been using was not owned by a real life person but by Netsob which was an organisation. At that moment, I just gave up.

That was it for having a Facebook subscription feature. I thought for a while about creating a Facebook Page (that’s what Facebook encourages organisations to do instead of creating personal profiles) and integrate the Facebook Like button to our site to function as our subscription feature but I decided against it.

Although it will be easy to integrate, it won’t adequately deliver the news to our users as the news updates will be posted on their Facebook News Feed and they could easily miss it if they’re not on Facebook for some time. I wanted a subscription feature that will take the news directly to the users. And that also struck out email subscription as most Nigerian students hardly ever check their emails.

So, having no other idea, on March 27th, 2012, iUniport suspended her subscription feature.