The Cambridge Freecycle group has lost approximately 8,000 ‘likes’ from Facebook after its page was deleted for copyright infringement.
Page administrators were sent a message to inform them that: “a third party reported that the content infringes or otherwise violates their trademark rights…
“If you believe that this content should not have been removed from Facebook, you can contact the complaining party (The Freecycle Network) to resolve your issue.”
The Freecycle Network (TFN) was originally launched in 2003 in Arizona, to help people avoid sending their unwanted items to landfill sites, but it quickly became an international success and helps members exchange or give away their goods to other households.
In 2012, after numerous court battles, TFN won the right to trademark its key word.
However, Sue Elliott – a key player in the Cambridge Freecycle group, who had been a Facebook page administrator for three years – said that the move was against the sharing philosophy of the organisation.
Ms Elliott said: “It’s ridiculous really – we are a group of people giving away stuff for free, but there is someone out there who objects to us using that one particular word.
“Unfortunately though the word Freecycle is the one everyone knows.
“It’s a blow for us – we had 8,000 Facebook members and we were growing daily, but now we have to start again from scratch.”
She also noted that a number of other social media pages operated by Freecycle groups across the UK had been deleted.
A Facebook spokesman confirmed that the page had been deleted due to “repeated violation of intellectual property”, but also emphasised that Facebook would not be acting as mediators between the two parties.