Hey, What Happened to the Ghosts of North Dakota Facebook Page?

Hey, What Happened to the Ghosts of North Dakota Facebook Page?

Maybe you’ve noticed, the Ghosts of North Dakota Facebook page is missing. What happened, and when will it be back? Your guess is as good as mine, but if you’re interested in the story of what happened, please read on.

We started our Facebook page in 2009, and it was an immediate hit. People just like you flocked to it, and in the first year we had over 30,000 followers. By 2014, the count was more than 100,000, and just before the page disappeared, the tally of followers was nearly 120,000.

If you’ve followed Ghosts of North Dakota on Facebook for any length of time, you know we frequently liked to use that page to post updates while we drove the back roads of North Dakota in search of another cool place to photograph. You got to follow along. We sometimes encountered problems, however, when we would post a photo of an abandoned place, and for some reason, the post would go on one of our personal Facebook profiles instead of our Ghosts of North Dakota Facebook page. So, I appointed a third admin for our page, my wife, Rebecca. While we were on the road, Rebecca could fix any screw-ups for us, and she could respond to questions and comments, too. It worked great.

This past Monday, however, on the same day as the 2017 solar eclipse, we woke up to a surprise. We (the three admins, myself, Terry, and Rebecca) woke up to emails in our inbox informing us that we had been removed as admins of our own Facebook pages. Rebecca is a British royal history buff, and she discovered that her Facebook pages had been taken over and either deleted or unpublished, and our Ghosts of North Dakota page, too. Somehow, hackers had accessed her account, and using her admin privileges, had removed all of us as admins, and took over our pages.

It has now been three days, and despite more than a dozen messages to Facebook, a message to Mark Zuckerberg, and several hack reports, we have yet to get a single response from Facebook. I suppose it’s understandable since Facebook has two billion users and a woefully inadequate customer support workforce, but it’s frustrating nonetheless. As of now, we do not have a Facebook page, and our 119,000-plus followers are gone.

When will we get it back? Will we get it back at all? I wish I could say, but there’s been no response from Facebook, so I don’t know. The question that’s on my mind tonight is, do we really want/need it back?

Our Facebook page is what made Ghosts of North Dakota one of the most-visited North Dakota-oriented destinations on the web. The Facebook page is what made our first book possible, due to our ability to reach people just like you, who were passionate about North Dakota, and generously gave your hard-earned dollars to our Kickstarter campaign to fund the first book. And the profits from that first book turned into three more books. Facebook made it possible.

However, in 2014, things changed. Facebook implemented a new algorithm which made it nearly impossible for our updates to reach you unless we agreed to pay to promote our posts. People started to come around, asking “Why don’t I see your updates in my Facebook feed anymore?” And the answer was, “Because they want us to pay to reach you.” We spent thousands of dollars on Facebook ads to make sure that, when we came home with hundreds of photos, we could post them on our website and then make you aware of it by posting an update on Facebook. Despite all the dollars spent on ads and promotion, our reach kept dropping and dropping. At one time, I was able to employ myself as part of the Ghosts of North Dakota project, designing new books, researching new destinations, and planning new trips, but that all ended when Facebook laid their new algorithm on us. Our website traffic dropped by more than half, and the book sales revenue that we counted on to fund our trips and fund new books dropped by 75%. It’s something I wrote about previously (you can read it here) but never shared with the Ghosts of North Dakota audience because frankly, it’s embarrassing to admit that your business that was once on a rocket ride is failing because of something as silly as a social media algorithm. I had to stop paying myself and go back to work.

So, as of now, I am again working in my former field, and Terry and I have returned to treating the Ghosts of North Dakota project as a hobby instead of a job, which means fewer updates, fewer photos, and fewer books.

I tell you all this because I want you to understand where Ghosts of North Dakota is right now… at a crossroads. Without our Facebook page, there will surely not be a new Ghosts of North Dakota book any time soon, but even with the page, there was no guarantee, either. So, I guess we’re asking for your patience while we figure this out, and also your feedback on what you think we should do. Do we continue to wait for a response from Facebook that might never come? (We have read accounts by other Facebook page operators who never got their page back). Do we start a new Facebook page and try to rebuild a following that, taking into account Facebook’s algorithm and our lack of funds for ads, will take 10 years to rebuild? Do we say “to hell with it,” and just forget about Facebook altogether? Would you still follow Ghosts of North Dakota if we chose to use Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and our email updates to keep you updated?

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments. And it goes without saying, now more than ever, if you haven’t subscribed to email notifications, please do. We’ll only email you when we have new content to share.

UPDATE: The hackers recently put the Facebook page back online, changed the phone number, and listed themselves as a “Public Figure” from Amman, Jordan. A copyright infringement report has been filed with Facebook. We would recommend you refrain from interacting with the page until it is back in our control.

Update 2: Ghosts of North Dakota’s Facebook page is once again under our control. There will be a post coming in the future which details how we got it back.

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy

57 thoughts on “Hey, What Happened to the Ghosts of North Dakota Facebook Page?

  1. Would love it back, maybe as a Private group, but t that defeats the purpose of sharing to educate. Just keep us updated by email if that’s what it takes.

  2. I already follow on Twitter and I’ll check you on Instagram. I personally love your books and articles. I am sick of Facebook and their bs. I hope you guys can figure out a way to continue. Your photos and books are a large reason I stay in ND

  3. Start a new FB page is my vote. Or several. Just reference everything previous to this website. I’ve done it. Been hacked before. May happen again.

  4. As for me I’m not on Twitter… only FB but would consider getting on Twitter to follow you and would on Youtube (as annoying as their ads have become… not enjoyable like the good old days), etc. Just keep us posted. LOVE your stuff! Praying it all works out!

  5. I enjoy your emails, and miss your Facebook posts. My son-in-law (a chem engineer for Broadcom) explained why he and my daughter use Reddit, and it sounds like a good way to reach the under-40 crowd and professionals. There’s a couple of YouTube bloggers (or whatever the YouTube term is) whose posts I receive under my Social Media inbox on gmail. It works fine for me, and presumably for them as well.

  6. I would like to have the Facebook page back but understand the situation you’re in now. I’ll at least be happy with the email updates for now. Sorry you have to go through all this ☚ī¸ Keep up the great work!

  7. Like others have stated I too very much want to be kept informed even if solely by email. I’m so sorry the page disappeared. It must be so frustrating after your years of hard work.

  8. I would definitely still follow Ghosts of North Dakota if you just used YouTube and email! Yor website is one of the main reasons I have started writing fiction about North Dakota ghost towns. It’s unfortunate so many websites want you to pay.

  9. Actually Ive only read you thru the emails. I don’t do twitter or Instagram but I have a Youtube account. I really don’t use Facebook much anyway. Sorry for your hassles.

  10. I would start a new FB page. I really don’t think that it would take that long to get up and going again with adding friends and friend shares. It’ll be good as new!

  11. I can’t even imagine the frustration. I will follow you no matter what platform you choose as your stories are: 1. always entertaining and fun to read, 2. often very educational and 3. keep me connected to ND, despite the fact I now live hundreds of miles away. I will join your email list. I do hope you can get your page back, but more importantly just don’t give up.

  12. I’ve been fed up with FB for a long time (for my own reasons); I had no idea they were charging commissions just to get your message out. Please don’t walk away from this. I’ve never been to North Dakota in my life but I shoot your updates to my other friends and we all agree (winters notwithstanding), North Dakota looks like a place we would love to live in. I prefer email updates anyhow…

  13. So sorry for all the problems. I enjoy your email posts and wondered why you weren’t on Facebook. I and many of my guests have enjoyed your book as it is always displayed on my coffee table.
    Don’t give up! Your work has been stunning.

  14. i follow you on e mail, love getting them, keeps me in touch with my native North Dakota. Its like i tell people , I may live in Oklahoma, but my heart is still North Dakotan.

  15. So sorry to hear of your hassle with FB. I do not use social media of any kind. I found you because I stumble upon one of your videos on YouTube. I have you on my desktop and I have shared this website with several North Dakotan’s of all ages living near me in SoCal. I check back weekly but, will gladly sign up for email notifications.

  16. New Facebook page is my vote, I already get emails, follow on twitter and instagram..Sorry that social media is treating honest, hard working people this way..

  17. I have never had a FB account, and likely never will, so I didn’t miss anything. I prefer email, and would love to continue receiving your updates that way.

  18. So sorry to hear of your latest problems and the mess that some idiots create just for fun or to make misery for someone else. I am quite high- tech and computer illiterate, so my vote would be for continuing on email. I follow here as much as possible.

  19. So sorry to hear about all the issues with Facebook!! I followed you in Facebook and email. As long as you email me, I am able to keep up with your status! Should we unfollow and/unfriend the Ghost of ND Facebook page? I still need to purchase vol #1 and #2, but have the others!! Always look forward to your new adventures! Faithful follower of “Ghosts of ND!”

  20. I thoroughly enjoy GND and will continue to follow using this web site. I rarely go to FB anymore, perhaps to message someone, but not like when it first began. Too commercial now. In the beginning it allowed a low cost high bandwidth networking opportunity, but those days are gone. Mostly I just go to your web site, which is excellent, and get my email alert of a new article. Hope you can work out some sort of business model to keep providing us with a fascinating ND experience …

  21. Sad thing is these days as soon as you hit around 100,000 in any area, wether it be the most mundane form of content ever you get a target on your back.

    I ran a FB page for several months and it was taken down by a mod whom had a disagreement with me, countless emails to FB and nothing. Don’t waste your time with them.

    I beg you two not to give up, because I have not only enjoyed this website myself but I have shown it to countless members of friends and family, all of whom are amazed at the years of work you’ve put into this. I even showed one of your books to a photographer and she was extremely impressed.

    I’d say just do email updates but keep a decently updated FB just for presence, but don’t sink a cent into it, they’re just not worth it.

  22. Facebook is getting to be such a pain – ads, fees to promote page, and now there are stupid polls that clutter the news feed that you can’t even hide. I am looking to quit facebook but not sure what I will use as a primary social media site.
    Emails, website, or whatever you use, I will follow Ghosts of North Dakota!
    Thanks so much for all you have done and will continue to do. I am grateful you are keeping the “Ghosts” alive for us!

  23. Avid, loyal follower so don’t despair. Have all of your books and look forward to the emails and will continue with support. No worries.

  24. Terry, I do not use Facebook or twitter, none of the others either. But I am subscribed to your You Tube channel. Also have G of N Dak saved on my “favorites” and go to it often. Whatever you do, best of luck to you.

  25. I’ll follow; prefer the email updates. I love GoND and will find you wherever you are. And shame on Facebook. Another reason to avoid it.

  26. I get your email updates and love it. I would follow you also on YouTube. Forget Facebook or anybody else who charges these fees. Run your business like a real North Dakotan does, always overcoming obstacles, using the implements on hand. That’s what built the state and gave everyone a “never give up” attitude.

  27. So sorry to hear about this glitch A friend of mine had her personal Facebook taken down and she can’t get on it or get answers back from Facebook Makes you kinda wonder I love your stories as a ND former resident I have learned history I never knew

  28. I’ll continue to follow by email. That has worked good for me. Also I would like to encourage you to expand into South Dakota. I understand how busy you get with the ND work as it is but I think you would have a big following from South Dakota as well. You do such excellent work. Thanks for the job you do.

  29. Love my email connection to your site. Sorry that you have so many problems with FB. I come to your site to see the beautiful sky, open land and HOME! Thank you for all you do!

  30. Just a suggestion but if Troy could, can he start a chat room where people can hang out and share their personal stories like they do here at Ghosts Of North Dakota. It’s just an idea but being from Massachusetts, I’ve enjoyed reading them but talking to the folks would be far better.

  31. Why dont you consider building an actual web site thru godaddy or one of the others that are out there. They are free to build and cost like 35$ and up to post to the web. You can sell your books directly from there and also post new stories and pics on it anytime you want. Just a thought.

  32. Wow! You guys are fighters, luckily. I really miss the e-mail updates. I despise FB. I am from Minot and Landa ND. Stuck in California now. Never give up. You are more respected than you may think. Take Care.

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