Facebook, in a sneaky, shocking development to small businesses, suddenly let it slip in a Facebook developers forum that they are no longer going to let new people to your Facebook Fan Page see your custom landing tabs, such as the oft recommended Welcome tab, complete with video, eye catching graphics, and an invitation to “like” the Page.

Ironically enough, this very afternoon I just got done filming and editing welcome videos for this site and for my Facebook Fan Page, when Social Media Examiner posted this news on their wall:

“No longer do new Facebook see custom tabs. Only fan pages with 10,000 fans or who spend money on Facebook for ads will have this option. To see this, simply log out of facebook and pull up your fan page. (props to Damian Leszczyński and Mari Smith for informing me). See: http://forum.developers.facebook.com/viewtopic.php?pid=227722#p227722″

And sure enough, this is the Developers discussion where the story unfolds.  Just now Mari Smith posted an informative blog about this news and the response is overwhelming.

Here’s my view: Facebook is a huge network that we all get to use for free.  I’m pretty easygoing about what they choose to do since this is such a valuable service and there’s no charge. For now at least.  But we do pay in privacy so that they can make more lucrative ad revenue. They’ve made over 200 privacy changes without our knowledge or informed consent and clearly feel they’re entitled to dictate to us, now that they’re so huge.  I think they were relying on sneaking that change in under the radar like they do almost everything else, don’t you?

What kind of PR would it give them if we had a Tweet-a-thon to raise awareness for this high handed breach of trust? Lots of small companies spend a lot of money on FBML development and welcome videos.  If I weren’t such a geek, I would have, but wanted to learn this to do it for others, also.  And what about the people who make their primary living providing this service?

I started out on Facebook nearly 5 years ago, when I went back to UGA for my degree in Communications. It was all college students and mostly fun, although there were some interesting discussions and all of my fellow editors on the school paper used it as our preferred method of communication on stories.  It was all about community and then businesses got involved, but at least they were small, interesting businesses or even large corporations openly trying to engage with their market.  That’s respectable.  I finally created my Fan Page only 2 months ago and now it has nearly 500 fans (Thank you!!!). I waited a very long time because the evolution of Facebook saddened me.  I didn’t want it to go all corporate and become the McDonalds of the internet.  It didn’t have to.

They sold out.

But I think we can do something about this.  I think there’s still the opportunity to change this recent development with a Social Media plan of our own that is out of their grasping control.  I suggest a Tweet-a-thon!! I’m creating a hashtag of #FBSO.  You guessed it: Facebook Sold Out!  Would you please retweet this with that hashtag? And then write a blog post of your own or tweet about what Facebook’s doing? If enough people make enough noise about this Facebook will have to back down and, more importantly, respect the power of individual voices all raised together saying

“Hey Facebook! Wake Up!!!”

Remember, please tweet this with #FBSO and pass it on!!