Hackers steal Facebook Pages – creator loses administrator rights

Come Watson — there is trouble afoot!

I have just learned the hard lesson that hackers can steal your Facebook pages right out from under you.

I manage a number of Facebook Business Pages (formerly termed ‘fan pages’). As of about a week and a half ago, three of these pages somehow got hacked. Somewhere in this this timeframe, the hackers have been able to assert themselves as administrators of these pages. Even worse, on two out of these three pages, the hackers have been able to delete me from the list of administrators of those pages. Read that again, and give it a moment to sink in…

Got it? Now here’s the kicker — so far Facebook seems unwilling to try to rectify the situation.

With the recent page redesign, it took several days before I realized that I had been hacked. I thought I was just caught in some transitional SNAFU. No such luck.

After realizing I’d been hacked, it took several days of concerted effort to try to contact a human within Facebook. After making contact, their reply seems to be a decided unwillingness to assist in the problem.

Now for the sordid tale…

About a week and a half back, the following seemingly innocuous drivel was posted to three of my pages:

Facebook hacker's spam
Facebook hacker's spam

I thought it was kinda insipid. However, not wishing to sadden a foreign fan, who perhaps had some emotional investment, I just left it be. Incidentally, google translates this as Albanian for Give the fans a little like ksaj site because it is a good site sh. Whatever the heck that is supposed to mean.

Later that day, a Usual Suspects ‘Group’ (as opposed to Usual Suspects Business Page, which we have been discussing up to this point) sprung into existence. Curiously, anything posted on the new Group also appeared on our Page, and anything posted on our Page appeared on this new Group. Weird. This factored directly into my assumption that FB was just hosed again, as they were in the midst of re-designing the facilities in the Business Pages.

A couple days later, I went to create a FB Event for a gig the Usual Suspects had coming up, on the Usual Suspects Page. I found that I was unable to do so. Further, I discerned that the reason I could not create an event was due to the fact that I was no longer an administrator for this page. Still thinking it to be a temporary SNAFU related to the Page facility redesign, I shrugged it off.

Eventually, on the 24th of February, the above spam reappeared. A friend of mine pointed out that it appeared nearly simultaneously on three pages I created, and (until I was cast off) administered:

http://www.facebook.com/usualDashSuspectsDotNet – The Usual Suspects
http://www.facebook.com/NovaDashKDotNet – Nova-K
http://www.facebook.com/LeeThomasBand – The Lee Thomas Band

These posts must be annoying at least some of our fans. So I decided to delete them from these pages. It was at this point that I discovered, to my horror, that I had lost administrative privileges to both Usual Suspects and Nova-K.

Interestingly, I still had privileges to Lee Thomas Band (I theorize below as to why this may have escaped the fate of the other pages). This led me to viewing the page as administrator, and viewing the administrators for this page. I noted then that administrative privileges had been granted to 5 people I had never heard of:

  • Ervin Gjurra
  • Argent Metallaj
  • Da Rk THunder
  • Taulant Kocillari
  • Don Kevii Unic

I revoked the administrative privileges of these five. I then started trying to report these people. Unfortunately, FB has no means of reporting that they have hacked my account. The nearest I could find was:

  • Report User > Fake Profile > Impersonating > Joe Bear

as it seemed the closest match.

I spent some time perusing the profiles of these hackers. Interestingly, ‘Taulant’ lists ‘Argent’ as one of his/her over a dozen siblings – may this denote a hacker family?

How did this happen?

I wish I knew. Here is what I think I can deduce. I don’t know how, but it seems clear that one of these five hackers was able somehow to hack my personal profile. Upon doing so, they granted themselves, and their friends, administrative privileges to three of my Business Pages. Why only three, when there are several more they could have hacked? I have no idea. After getting in, they deleted my personal profile’s administrator status for two of these three Biz Pages.

In the case of the third page, I retained my administrator privileges. Did they try to cast me off here too? I don’t know. However, at the time of the attack, I had an active FB Ad running for this page. Perhaps administrators cannot be cast out while running Ads for the page in question?

When I marhall the mental energy, I’ll generate a new post outlining the (rather unhelpful) communication I have so far had with humans at Facebook about this issue. Word of warning- so far, it ain’t pretty.

increase your visibility by getting a custom username URL for your facebook page: two minute tutorial

One frustrating aspect of facebook, however, is its mechanism for assigning a URL to any persons profile or any public brand’s page. This two minute tutorial explains how you can accomplish exactly this URL simplification. This can be done for both personal profiles, and for fan pages.

With over 350 Million users, facebook is becoming increasingly important as a tool for reaching potential fans.

One frustrating aspect of facebook, however, is its mechanism for assigning a URL to any person’s profile or any public brand’s page. Let us look at Metaverse Musician’s facebook page, for instance. At the instant in time that I am composing this blog, this page is only accessible at the URL http://www.facebook.com/pages/Metaverse-Musician-isjeb/253144691788 . Wouldn’t it be preferable if the URL was simpler? I think http://www.facebook.com/Metaverse-Musician would be just about ideal, don’t you?

This two minute tutorial explains how you can accomplish exactly this URL simplification. This can be done for both personal profiles, and for fan pages.

Personal Profile:

  1. Go to your personal profile
  2. From your Profile, type http://www.facebook.com/username into your browser’s URL bar, and hit enter.
  3. In order to do this, you must have verified your account through your mobile number. If you have not yet done so, facebook will guide you though this at this point.
  4. Facebook will present you with a number of choices for your custom username URL. If you like one that it has preselected, choose it.
  5. If you would rather have a different choice for your custom username URL, click ‘More’ and enter your choice.
  6. Click ‘Check Availablility’. If the username is available, and meets facebook guidelines, facebook will ask you to confirm your choice. Double check your spelling — once confirmed, you’re stuck with this as a custom username URL forever!
  7. Click ‘Confirm’. Facebook tells you that “You can now direct your friends to facebook.com/<whatever-your-choice-was>”.

Fan Pages:

You must first have at least 25 fans. This is an arbitrary limit set by facebook.

  1. Go to your personal profile
  2. From your Profile, type http://www.facebook.com/username into your browser’s URL bar, and hit enter. This should take you to the page for setting your default profile username.
  3. Click ‘Set a username for your Pages’.
  4. A dropdown box will appear – choose the page for which you wish to set a custom username URL.
  5. Facebook will present you with a number of choices for your custom username URL. If you like one that it has preselected, choose it.
  6. If you would rather have a different choice for your custom username URL, click ‘More’ and enter your choice.
  7. Click ‘Check Availablility’. If the username is available, and meets facebook guidelines, facebook will ask you to confirm your choice. Double check your spelling — once confirmed, you’re stuck with this as a custom username URL forever!
  8. Click ‘Confirm’. Facebook tells you that “You can now direct your fans to facebook.com/<whatever-your-choice-was>”.

Now you can publicize your custom username URL outside of the facebook sandbox — on the internet at large — confident your friends and fans will be able to link to your profile and pages from outside the facebook walled garden.

Note: this guide is written mostly from memory. If you encounter any issues or discrepancies while executing this process, please leave me a comment so I can fix the procedure.

secret to convert facebook friends to fans with a Fan Badge on your profile linking to your page

It is hard to underestimate the impact that social networking has had upon the music industry. With over 350 Million active users, and a six month growth of 70% in the first half of 2009, facebook is destined to be the dominant social media site for some time.

Most bands and musicians are probably aware of the value of facebook pages as opposed to profiles. Accordingly, most musicians maintain pages in addition to their personal profiles. But facebook does not automatically make others aware that a personal profile may also be related to a fan page. But how does one create an awareness of a page’s existence?

The process I describe herein will allow the artist to permanently and prominently display a link to a given page from their profile. Further, this link will appear in the profile’s sidebar, so it can be seen whether the Wall tab or the Info tab is currently being displayed. Better yet, the link will also contain the page’s ‘profile’ picture, leading to recognition for your page’s graphical brand.

By making it easier for people to find your page, you should collect new legions of fans.

It is hard to underestimate the impact that social networking has had upon the music industry. The entire market is being reinvented with the demise of traditional record companies, and the ascendancy of direct band-to-fan marketing. While a successful marketing campaign would use multiple outlets, it seems clear that the most important social media site at this time is facebook. With over 350 Million active users, and a six month growth of 70% in the first half of 2009, facebook is destined to be the dominant social media site for some time.

Personal Profile vs. Band Page

Individuals register a personal profile with facebook. Publicly-known brands, companies, figures, and most germanely musicians, can also register a Page. A Page is similar to a profile, but comes with some additional benefits. Among these benefits are the ability to advertise the page, and a relatively unrestricted number of fans (as opposed to the hard limit of the number of friends any given profile accommodates). Other benefits of the Page include:

  • info tab tailored to your business type
  • additional widgets such as a music player
  • review section
  • ability to share page administration tasks
  • analytics on page interactions

Making others aware

Most bands and musicians are probably aware of the value of pages as opposed to profiles. Accordingly, most musicians maintain pages in addition to their personal profiles. But facebook does not automatically make others aware that a personal profile may also be related to a fan page. How does one create an awareness of a page’s existence? A person can become a fan of a given page. In doing so, facebook will by default display this linkage upon the Pages section of the Info tab of the profile. However, there is no way to force facebook to display an artist’s own page in preference to the other pages which are displayed therein. What is displayed there is a small random selection from all the pages of which one is a fan. As such, there is no guarantee that the artist’s own page will be selected for display at all.

The process I describe herein will allow the artist to permanently and prominently display a link to a given page from your profile. Further, this link will appear in the profile’s sidebar, so it can be seen whether the Wall tab or the Info tab is currently being displayed. Better yet, the link will also contain the page’s ‘profile’ picture, leading to recognition for your page’s graphical brand. You can see an example of this on the left sidebar of my personal facebook profile.

Two elements

There are two elements to pull together to obtain this benefit. The first is that we need the ability to place arbitrary content on our profile’s sidebar. The second is to create the desired linkage to place in the sidebar. The former we will accomplish with an application called Custom Profile Box. The latter we will accomplish with a native facebook tool called a Fan Badge. The following is a step-by-step tutorial on these objectives.

Custom Profile Box

Our first objective is to add the application ‘Custom Profile Box’. This application will create an element that we can fill with arbitrary content. We will later fill this element with our page link Fan Badge, and then move it to our profile sidebar.

  1. From your personal profile, on the lower left select ‘Applications’, then select ‘Browse More Applications’.
  2. In the ‘Search Applications’ field, enter “Custom Profile Box”.
  3. Click on the desired ‘Custom Profile Box’ application in the search results.
  4. From the application’s Fan page, click ‘Go To Application’.
  5. Click the ‘Allow’ button.
  6. Go back to your profile wall.
  7. Below your status entry box, click ‘Options’, then click ‘Settings’.
  8. Click the link ‘applications settings page’.
  9. On the list of apps, a drop down ‘Show’ menu select ‘Authorized’ to show all the apps authorized to access your profile data.
  10. Click on ‘Edit Settings’ link next to ‘Custom Profile Box’.
  11. In the pop-up window, make sure the ‘Profile’ tab is highlighted. *
  12. Next to the “Box” item is the word ‘Add’. Click on this to add a box to your profile for this app.
  13. Decide and modify the Privacy — I suggest setting this to “Everyone”.

You are done setting up the app.

* There have been reported cases where there is no ‘Profile’ tab on the popup at this point. Further reports indicate that this may be alleviated by editing the Box, and adding some content, then returning to this step of the process. More as it develops.

This problem, and its solution, are now more fully understood. The issue is that the Custom Profile Box application will not have a ‘Profile’ tab on the Edit Application Settings popup until such time that some data (any dummy data is sufficient) has been added. The solution is to place some data in the Custom Profile Box as per steps 1-5 of ‘Place the Fan Badge in the Custom Profile Box’ below. After that, return to this process. Note that any data is sufficient — it does not yet need to be the code for the Fan Badge, and it does not need to be entered in ‘Source’ mode (though it will need to be later, as described below).

This also applies to the sister application ‘HTML Profile Box’.

Generate a Fan Badge

We have so far installed the ‘Custom Profile Box’ into our profile. Next we need to generate a Fan Badge for our page. Later we will place this Fan Badge in our Custom Profile Box and move the Custom Profile Box to our profile sidebar. Oddly, to make a Page Badge, you need to travel through your (personal) Profile’s Profile Badge link. The code for the Fan Badge will be copied and pasted into the Custom Profile Box’s editor. Accordingly, it may be easiest if you open another browser tab for this next bit.

  1. Go to your personal page’s Info tab.
  2. Near bottom left is a link entitled ‘Create¬† Profile Badge’. Click it to go to the Profile Badge page.
  3. On the Profile Badge screen there is a column where you can choose what type of badge you want. Choose ‘Fan Badges’. This will take you to the Fan Badges Widget screen.
  4. On the Fan Badges Widget screen, find the dropdown entitled ‘Select a Page’. From that dropdown, select the page for which you wish to create a badge. Note that you must first be a fan of that page.
  5. From the 2nd field on the Fan Badges Widget screen, copy the HTML code for your Fan Badge.

Place the Fan Badge in the Custom Profile Box

At this point, we have installed the Custom Profile Box application, and created a Fan Badge for our destination page. The code for the Fan Badge is in out buffer. We next need to paste this into the Custom Profile Box. Later, we will move the Custome Profile Box to our profile’s sidebar. Go back to your earlier browser tab.

  1. Click on the ‘Applications’ status bar menu and select the app from the pop up window.
  2. An editor will load, and takes 30 secs or so on busy connection.
  3. On the editors toolbar, click the button named ‘Source’. This allows you to enter raw FBML code.
  4. In the editor window paste the (FBML) code for the Fan Badge, which should be in your buffer from the earlier objective.
  5. To save your creation to the app box, click on the ‘Update’ button. If all is well your box should appear in the boxes section of your profile.
  6. Click on your profile, and select the boxes tab. See your app box and your creation in it.
  7. You can drag your box to any desired location on the page by left clicking the box and dragging around.

Move it to the profile sidebar

OK, we have added the Custom Profile Box application, generated a Fan Badge for our destination page, and placed the fan badge in the Custom Profile Box. The last step is to move our Custom Profile Box from our profile’s Boxes tab to the sidebar.

  1. Go to your profile
  2. Select the Boxes tab
  3. Locate the Custom Profile Box on the Boxes tab
  4. There is a pencil at the upper right corner of the Custom Profile Box. Click it.
  5. Select ‘Move to Wall tab’.
  6. Go to your wall. You should see the Custom Profile Box, with your Fan Badge linking to your artist page, in the sidebar. You can change the location of this sidebar element by left-clicking and dragging it where you want it. There is however, the restriction that it cannot appear higher in the sidebar than the standard facebook sidebar elements.

Collect more fans!

That’s it. Now all visitors to your personal profile will be met with a graphically branded link to your artist page. By making it easier for people to find your page, you should collect new legions of fans.

Got a facebook topic you would like to see covered? Let me know in the comments section!

new Google music offering — indie musicians face new challenges and opportunities

Google has just announced a major enhancement to its handling of music searches. This change brings new conveniences for average Google users, and new opportunities for musicians. Herein, we’ll let an official Google video speak to the consumer side of things, then discuss what changes are under the hood, and what they mean for music marketing.

Google has just announced a major enhancement to its handling of music searches. This change brings new conveniences for average Google users, and new opportunities for musicians. Herein, we’ll let an official Google video speak to the consumer side of things, then discuss what changes are under the hood, and what they mean for music marketing.

So here’s the video, aimed at your average consumer:

Basically, users searching on keywords involving artists, album titles, song titles, or lyrics are presented with a simple means of listening to those tunes for which they are searching. Also presented at the top of the search results is a wealth of similar content that can be played and/or viewed. It is the playing of the material where things get interesting for musicians.

They playing of the songs is actually handled by Google’s partners — currently iLike and Lala. Clicking on the play icon at the top of the search results opens a popup song player, with the song of interest playing, and other songs by the same artist loaded. There is a link at the upper right of the song player to the retail outlet, where one can easily purchase the song in question.

Note that, while others have reported that the partner used to play any tune is random, my limited testing showed a decided bias to Lala. Out of perhaps twenty searches for an artist name, all but one came up on Lala. The last — Mahogany Rush — came up on an iLike player, but had no link to a retail purchase.

It should be mentioned that below the default links in the top search result are links to the artist on other sites — including iLike, Rhapsody, iMeem, Pandora, and possibly others. Note that MySpace bought iLike earlier this year. From my limited testing, however, it seems clear that Lala is a favored retailer.

As an online music retailer, Lala has a rather unusual business model. Users can stream every song on the service once for free. After that, customers can buy the right to stream it for $0.10 or buy the MP3 for $0.89. Users can also upload their own music library to Lala and then stream those songs freely over the Internet.

It is also interesting to note that Lala has recently partnered with Facebook, with an officially connected Lala Facebook application.

Google has also partnered with the major music labels: EMI, Sony Music, Universal Music Group and Warner Music. I assume this was required in order to smooth over the legal ramifications of being able to preview content in search results.

We all know what a giant Google has become. From it’s humble beginnings, it has risen in a few short years to dominate the Internet. Like iconic brands such as Xerox, the company name has become both a household noun and verb. Even given the central role of search in our daily lives, it has been reported that approximately 6% of all Google searches are music related. This points out how important Google is to all commercial musicians. Now with this major user-facing enhancement, the use of Google by consumers to identify and acquire new music seems certain to multiply.

So what does this mean to indie musicians? It will be interesting to see how this shakes out. From a personal perspective, I am in the middle of evaluating partner organizations to act as interfaces to online music retailers. As of today, I know that I need to re-evaluate my options, with a particular notice to which such organizations partner with Lala.

In a similar vein, I need to learn more about the relationship between Google and MySpace — as MySpace has just announced an ‘artist dashboard’. This is an analytics tool which over time may aspire to much the same functionality as ReverbNation.

In this wild musical world defined by the demise of the traditional recording labels, independent musicians live in a sea of change. One thing is certain — while this constant change requires continual attention, it also brings a steady stream of opportunities for independent musicians to bring their music to new legions of fans.