I’m a firm advocate on the importance of social networking, especially when it comes to Facebook and Twitter. In fact, soon I’ll release my seventh book,
, which provides some great tips on the use of social media channels, along with some secrets I’ve used to help build my brand—as an example, the infamous and hard to come by, “blue verification checkmark,” my Twitter account honorably displays to almost 110,000 followers.
My upcoming book features pointers on how I potentially achieved this Twitter status plus how to better use your Facebook and Twitter accounts for social engagement, networking, marketing and brand building. In addition, I’ve written in this photography blog, books, articles, etc., about the importance of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google Plus, and other social networking channels, vital to photographers—all positive words designed to encourage, not discourage the use of social media channels.
This time however, I’ve got a bone to pick with Facebook. My specific irritation with what I consider a “must” social media channel for all photographers is Facebook’s double standards, something I have yet to encounter on other social media channels. So here is my open letter to Facebook management and Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook:
To whomever from the Facebook staff with authority reads this first:
Hi. I am writing today about the recent “possible account termination warning” I received from Facebook on March 5, 2013 concerning Facebook ads I tried to promote. I sent your advertising department my response on March 6, 2013, reference your warnings to terminate my accounts, but have not received a reply.
I’ve maintained a personal and fan page account on Facebook for many years and have always advertised my photography workshops with no problems or warning notices. It wasn’t until I purchased advertising that Facebook took notice and threatened possible deletion of my accounts. I find this appalling considering the types of content found and promoted on Facebook.
I honestly and legitimately purchased advertising marketed to me, by Facebook, and even though the advertisements were halted, Facebook did bill and collect for the prorated portion of advertising exposure I received.
Various Penthouse magazine and website fan pages found on Facebook, including from the U.S., Thailand, Australia and other countries.
I always comply with Facebook terms in my opinion so this caught me off guard. As an example, for my popular photography blog, I requested and received Facebook’s permission (BPR232943 – BPR for Rolando Gomez Photography via Facebook Legal Dept.), for this article, “Every Photographer Needs a Facebook Fan Page.”
I’ve also written many other articles in books, magazines, blogs, etc., that constantly convey to my fans and followers the importance of Facebook in social networking, marketing and engagement with others. I promote Facebook by every means possible, including when I speak and lecture at public and private events where I’m often compensated to appear.
Some of those events I’ve not only promoted and discussed on Facebook, but have always shared valuable information to my followers, as applicable. I also promote my bonafide photography workshops that maintain almost a 14-year consecutive track record of acceptance in the photography community. I was shocked when I decided to “pay” Facebook so I could “promote” these widely accepted photography events, when Facebook took a negative sense of action toward me for making an honest attempt to secure the services Facebook solicits to me on a daily basis.
After the negative response from Facebook, I made a status update on my private Facebook profile concerning the dilemma I was now placed in after being alerted by Facebook. Over 270 people responded with the favorable “like” about my photos and photography workshops. There were also 57 favorable comments from men and women, including Skip Cohen, former President of Hasselblad, Rangefinder magazine and the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI).
Skip publicly commented, “It’s absurd – there’s nothing that I’ve seen you post that’s any racier than a day time soap…seriously, why in the world would they be this stupid….” I might add, all comments were similarly favorable, from both men and women, in support of my photography and workshops. No one favored Facebook’s position.
I was also alerted by my supporters that Facebook promotes and allows brands like Playboy, Hustler, Penthouse, Liberator, and even “R” or higher rated movies to promote their messages, website links, products, editorial content, etc., that promote nudity, sex, adult products and more. Hence my feeling, along with my supporters, that Facebook has a double standard policy.
Hustler magazine, including the words, “pornographic magazine,” found in the description on Facebook.
While I’ve shot for Playboy Enterprises, I realize I’m not as big a brand as Playboy, Hustler, or Penthouse. My photography workshops don’t even come close to the amount of “sex, nudity, and in the case of the latter two, pornography,” that these media giants push via Facebook.
Many people in the photo industry and markets know I’ve made my mark in photography, primarily with the glamour genre of the art, even though my original background is photojournalism.
Part of building of my brand came through authoring many photography books, working photography forums, along with conducting glamour, beauty and the nude photography workshops plus seminars around the world, many years before there was a Twitter or Facebook.
Like all brand building, the consumer looks at many things, and in the case of photographers that I teach, either through my books, blogs and/or workshops, they inspect my credentials.
While I’m not going to totally recap what you can find in my biography, I’ve taught over 500 photography workshops around the world, delivered lectures at the University of Texas, the University of Calgary and the University of the Virgin Islands. Plus I’m taught seminars in the past decade at the Photo Imaging and Design Expo (San Diego), Photo Plus Expo (Jacob Javits Center, New York), FotoFusion (Florida), Samy’s Camera (Los Angeles), Julia Dean Photo Workshops (Venice Beach), and the Austin Photo Expo.
I even donated all proceeds from five lectures to The Arc Foundation children’s charity and donated my photography time at a New Year’s Eve charity function for the Child Focus charity fund. I’ve also donated and contributed to many charities, from cancer to leukemia causes.
I might add, in the Fall of 2006 I was on a European photography seminar/lecture tour for Calumet Photographic and California Sunbounce in three countries and seven cities—a male and female attended tour that I plan on repeating soon.
A rather sexually oriented film, “Secretary,” featured on Facebook. Notice, there are almost 104,000 likes on this Facebook page.
Again, you can find tons more credentials on my bio page and even on Wikipedia.com where the University of Texas, San Antonio, lists me as a “notable” graduate—which has nothing to do with my 4.0 GPA and summa cum laude accolades for my Bachelors of Arts degree in Communication, Electronic Media. While there is plenty more to my civilian education, I also patriotically served my country for over 17 years.
Just to touch on my military background, besides being a decorated veteran and combat photographer while an active-duty soldier for the U.S. Army for over eight years, I also served eight-plus years as a U.S. Air Force senior civilian. During that time I managed the photography department for the Army and Air Force News Service, then later was promoted to the Chief of the Multimedia Branch, Air Force News Agency, where one of my responsibilities included overseeing photography, television and radio products for the multimillion dollar U.S. Air Force website, www.af.mil.
As you can see, I’m very familiar with sensibility and sensitivity when it comes to major public websites in addition to public relations and the media. So hopefully, whoever is reading this at Facebook, you know I’m not some fly-by-night photographer trying to make a quick buck—I’m spreading the gospel of photography and helping others learn photography, plus brand building, through my many years of experiences, from combat to the classroom.
Bottom line—Facebook, please reconsider your warnings that you will terminate my account. All I did was purchase advertising from you. Let’s not create a perception that if you purchase advertising from Facebook your account could potentially be terminated.
I follow the rules even when I asked your legal department last year for permission to write one of my blog articles. I do not link to sex, adult products, adult toys, nudity or nude photos, like you allow Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, Liberator and others. I’m a military veteran, educator, author and star of a new television reality show that spreads the gospel of photography and the value of social networks.
Finally, if Facebook still doesn’t want me to advertise using their paid advertising system, please at least allow me to link to my photography workshop, individual pages. I will not link to any nude photos or sexually explicit content like those allowed on Facebook for Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler, this at least eliminates the public appearance of double standards by Facebook. I thank you in advance and patiently await your response.
In closing, as I do in all my books, articles and blog posts, please don’t forget the men and women who serve in our armed forces to protect and defend our freedoms, including the freedom of speech. God Bless them, their families and friends, Rolando.