This week brings the news that Rockville Central News, one of the top five local blogs in Maryland, decided to move its operation entirely to Facebook.

Then CNN weighed in with Will Facebook replace company Web sites?,  suggesting that a day might be coming when the power of Facebook means that major companies no longer bother with their own Web sites. That’s exactly the reason why lawyers, law firms or any entity should want to have their own blog or website.

Facebook offers no special treatment for known entities

Unlike Twitter, where if you know someone who knows someone, you may get that dormant username released, or where they’ve in effect, set up a class system, assigning celebrities and those with name recognition, a special “verified status”. As much as I deplore this devaluing of the average user by Twitter, it does offer a tier of recognition and perhaps a sliver of protection to well known entities.

Account can be shut down with no recourse

We’ve all heard of Facebook shutting down popular Pages. Like the real estate page with over 47,000 fans. The issue was related to a legitimate trademark issue but Facebook refused the owners attempt to modify the vanity URL and simply shut the site down without any notice. The owner of the mark even wrote to Facebook saying that it wasn’t their intention to break up the popular group, just to have the URL reworked.

And now, an attorney is suing Facebook after going months without answers to why his account was deactivated. He’s alleging that his civil rights were violated in connection with the closure of his account without proper notice or due process. He’s not seeking money damages, but wants Facebook to create a review and appeal process when an account is shut down. Good luck with that.

Privacy concerns for account holders and their friends or fans

No one has been spared the betrayal of Facebook’s privacy shifts based on their desire to create additional revenue streams. The latest is their intention to Share Users’ Home Addresses, Phone Numbers With External Sites. Users are becoming increasingly “concerned with what they see as Facebook’s willingness to change the rules of play–first encouraging people to share personal information with a more limited group of friends, then allowing that data to be accessed in new, unexpected ways.”

Use Facebook for what it’s worth – engaging and driving traffic to your site

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t use the platform. It’s useful for driving traffic to our blogs, sometimes cited as being the primary referral source. It’s a fertile forum for engaging, accessing and creating community, and sharing content, or rather, links to content.

Kevin O’Keefe makes a point that “if your focus is community building, engagement, distribution, or collaboration, as is the case with many legal publications (including blogs), publishing on Facebook may have merit.”

But, he adds, “There’s also the obvious shortcoming of going it alone on Facebook, that is without an independent site. You’re publishing is controlled by the whims of a third-party which could change its publishing rules on a moments notice.”

So, develop a Facebook Page, engage, create community, spread the news, but only as a compliment to your primary source. Own your content.  Keep blogging.


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