Facebook is a common form of marketing for small businesses, but it is currently not an option for Dunedin restaurateur Katrina Toovey.
That's because the Silicon Valley-based social media giant will no longer allow posts from her business page to been seen by its followers.
Toovey, owner of South Island restaurants No7 Balmac and The Esplanade located in Dunedin, has been battling Facebook for close to two months over one of the restaurant's food-related marketing posts being "continually" blocked.
Garden restaurant No7 Balmac has been blocked four times. And due to Facebook's standard 14-day stand-down investigation period per block, it has been unable to use its profile, with the company's algorithms shielding posts from the view of its followers.
Facebook says the reason for the blocked posts is because they are "causing people to like or engage with it unintentionally in a misleading way" and pushing "abusive messages".
It says the page is not complying with Facebook Community Standards.
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But Toovey says this is not the case.
She says No7 Balmac, which has been using Facebook as a means of marketing for the past five years, has only posted specials of the days and changes to its menus.
Blocks on its posts had brought the company's Facebook page which, has close to 5500 followers to a standstill, and meant it was no longer able to get any organic reach on the social media site, which was usually seen by thousands of people in Dunedin, Toovey says.
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Blocks have taken place on August 27, September 12, October 3, and October 16.
No7 Balmac closed in May last year following a fire and re-opened in August. Over that time, Toovey says, Facebook became an important way for the business to communicate with its followers as it held occasional pop-up stalls.
She says Facebook had shown "little interest" in resolving the issue, which had been ongoing since the end of August. "The posts have just been food and garden updates, menu updates. We have a doughnut that we sell just on Friday and Saturday mornings that our community really enjoys; we change the flavour every week, so it is just a food-related forum for us.
"These posts are extremely apolitical, with only the most extreme dieters able to take offence to the tantalising doughnut posts which went from consistent hungry following through to close to no engagement today."
Facebook would not tell her why the posts had been deemed "inappropriate or abusive" and would not provide her with any information on the situation.
The Herald has not yet received a response from Facebook.
Toovey fears a competitor may be reporting the business each time it makes a post, triggering an automatic block, or that Facebook was changing its revenue-grabbing tactics.
The blocks were having a "financial impact" on the business, with less foot traffic into the restaurant and, as a result, a shortfall in sales.
"We are a customer of Facebook and we also generate an income for Facebook by having good engagement so they can post ads and piggyback off our community, and yet they've shown very little interest in resolving this," says Toovey.
"They won't tell us why it is happening, they just say we have to stop the behaviour but they won't say what the behaviour is."
Facebook suggested the business pay "to boost" engagement of its posts which subsequently had not been blocked, she says.
"They'll let us pay and boost it and they won't block those posts, but they won't let us have any organic reach? I also wonder if this was a new business model for Facebook because ... if we've been abusive and offensive why would they allow us to pay to promote a post?"
She says the "poor" response from Facebook showed a disregard towards small- and medium-sized businesses using its platform.
The business was not having any issues with it marketing posts on Facebook-owned sister social media platform Instagram, she says.
Facebook has been contacted for comment.