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Animal rights Facebook status updates: spam or lifesavers

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Their Facebook status updates are written in ALL-CAPS and liberally peppered with  exclamation points. They show up hundreds of times, always with a heartfelt plea to save lives. And your newsfeed can be overtaken by the constant activity if  you “like” one of these pages.

It’s no wonder Facebook thought some animal rescue pages were spam and suspended the accounts. But animal activists are crying foul. The updates -- complete with pleas for money -- save lives, they say. And that people who sign up for them actually want them.

This week, many Facebook users who maintain pages for the purpose of saving stray animals found their accounts suspended for 15 days. They’re charged with violating Facebook’s terms of use.

“You will not send or otherwise post unauthorized commercial communications (such as spam) on Facebook,” the website’s policy reads.

As frequent and fervent as animal rescue page status updates may be, they are still considered valuable to the thousands of Facebook users who actively “like,” share and participate with them. Some supporters put up a Petition to STOP FB From Blocking Animal Rescuers. It already has over 8,000 signatures.

“Everyday these pages are banned, or '15 day holds' are placed, lives are lost,” it reads.

Megan Shea, the administrator of the City of Hartford Animal Shelter Facebook page said that before Facebook banned her from posting, her local animal shelter hadn’t had to destroy any animals in a month.

“If the number increases for dogs being put to sleep, it's Facebook's fault!” she told ManchesterPatch. “We try everything in our power to find these dogs safety before its too late and Facebook is stopping us from doing that.”

Facebook allows users to hide pages or games from their news feeds. Due to the high volume of updates though, animal rescue page, Every Dog Deserves a Home, warns users before joining that updates are frequent.

“Please don't be bothered by the amount of posts you will see from me, because I won't stop posting.. I assume that if you join it's because you want to help me share the animals in need..,” their about page reads.

A Facebook group called “Don’t suspend our Animal Rescue Accounts” has more than 11,000 fans. The page is filled with comments requesting Facebook to reconsider. It also updates users on Facebook’s progress on the issue:

According to one updater, Facebook apologized to say her page suspension was a mistake, but then checked to find that she had been suspended a second time. “It may be a mistake and they maybe correcting it as is happens.. but they have not FIXED it,” she said.

Photo courtesy of Fan photos from "Dont suspend our Animal Rescue Accounts"