Unofficial pages attract Usain Bolt fans on Facebook

I spent the weekend in the archipelago on the Swedish east coast and drove for about three hours to get back home on Sunday evening. We arrived only five minutes before the start of the 100 metres final in the World Championships in Athletics in Berlin. I sat with my two oldest kids and watched the amazing new world record (9.58) set by Usain Bolt and it was a magical moment that I will remember for many years.

Usain Bolt When we get to experience such an amazing performance we sometimes like to show our graditude and support for the athlete. After 9.58, more people will become fans of Usain Bolt and search for information about the fastest man on earth. His own website is of course one such place, but people will also want to become fans of Bolt on Facebook for example. But there are as many as 62 pages for Usain Bolt on Facebook, which one is the official page? Well, there is one page with more than a million fans and it appears to be some kind of official page. It contains a lot of information and it can be reached via the personalized URL, so it appears to be legitimate.

Another fanpage has managed to attract 127,000 fans, and there are several others with a few thousands Bolt fans. Others are piggybacking on celebrities by “borrowing” their names on different social networks. For example, someone called Jimmy Hawarny has managed to get the personalized URL for his personal page. And there are several Usain Bolts on Twitter, none which seems to be the real one. While Twitter has tried to solve the problem with fake accounts by creating verified accounts, to my knowledge, Facebook has no such indicator that a page is “official”.

One the other hand, creating fake fan pages is a violation of Facebook’s terms:

Fake Pages and unofficial “fan pages” are a violation of our Pages Guidelines. If you create an unauthorized Page or violate our Pages Guidelines in any way, your Facebook account may be disabled.

Unofficial fanpages may not be a huge problem, in fact they may even become the biggest asset for a brand or a celebrity. The biggest fanpage for Coca-Cola on Facebook has attacted well over 3 million fans, and it was started by two regular Facebook members who had trouble to find a legitimate Coke page. The page has also been embraced by the Coca-Cola Company.

In the case of Usain Bolt, it’s not extremely hard to find the official page, even though hundreds of thousands have become fans of unofficial pages. But when there are so many unofficial pages, maybe it is time for Facebook to launch some form of Verified Pages? Just so that you know what’s what.

Update: In a Google search, the page with 1 million fans and the page with 127,000 fans are both presented as official: “Welcome to the official Facebook Page of Usain Bolt. Get exclusive content and interact with Usain Bolt right from Facebook.”

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