The King’s Head pub in Buckingham’s Market Hill has found itself at a frustrating impasse regarding its representation on the social media platform, Facebook.
An old Facebook page, perhaps just forgotten about by whoever previously managed it, could give the impression of being an up to date incarnation of the business.
This most 21st Century of problems has revealed a dangerous loophole for how businesses can control and manage their reputation in the modern world, with apparently few options for a resolution available.
The issue began almost immediately after the current tenant, Alan Edmeades, took over the prominent pub in the heart of Buckingham, in November 2016, and began to seek to promote his new bar online.
He and general manager, David Williams, noticed that the Facebook page launched by tenants who left The King’s Head in December 2014 was still live (though was not being updated).
This is a problem because the page does not represent the pub’s services as they are now and the current tenant cannot access the pages to update them or promote new events.
Historic bad reviews, posted by people saying they were former clients of the pub, are also an issue. David Williams gave as an example the following comment from 2014, well before he took over as manager:
“After seeing your post on here I decided to come for lunch on Friday afternoon with my friend and two small children and basically we were told to “get out we don’t want children in here”.”
Mr Williams understandably protested: “I don’t want my customers seeing that.”
The pair have tried to contact Facebook to get the page taken down but without success.
Manager David Williams said: “If I try to report this page it says you have to say what it is, so I select fraud or scam and then it tells you to contact them and ask them to close their page down or unfollow them so you’re not seeing their posts.”
Mr Williams has sent a message to the owners of the old profile, requesting that it be deleted, but has not received any response.
Solicitor Zoe McNeil, of Knights plc, who specialises in such cases, told us:
“This is essentially a passing off issue. Passing off is a common law cause of action that can protect trademarks or other indication of trade origin.
“We have looked at the earlier Facebook page of the King’s Head Buckinghamshire and can see that the page gives the address and opening times. The opening times on the page give the impression that this place is still open.
“The infringing page does not appear in the Google search results.
“Therefore the main issue is in relation to customers that use Facebook and past customers searching for the old pub. In short, this is therefore a Facebook issue which means that resolution of the matter will mean contacting them.”
The new owners would like to make it clear that the real Facebook page is called The Kings Head Coffee & Gin Bar and can be found here: www.facebook.com/kingsheadcoffeebar.
This newspaper has attempted to contact the pub’s former management to no avail - there is no implication that they are continuing to run the page maliciously.
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