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Painted some champagne bottles. Then came Meta customer support hell

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 Painted some champagne bottles. Then came Meta customer support hell

Holifield hired Eva to help her recover her account. But Eva warned that the chances of success were impossible to predict. Eva herself, for reasons unclear to her, lost access in late January to Meta’s Media Support Partner Portal, a channel for more dedicated support for public figures and organizations. Someone else with access to the Portal offered to lend it to Eva for $5,000 per box; she refused.

The Instagram email also said Holifield could appeal directly to Veuve through Corsearch, a company that files takedown requests on behalf of brands like Veuve and resellers “an excellent collaborative relationship with Meta.”

Although his case had nothing to do with counterfeit trafficking, Corsearch wanted receipts for Holifield’s Veuve purchases to authenticate them, but the prints had long since been discarded. Her husband went to liquor stores to ask for copies and recovered two of the three purchases, in different stores. One was particularly eager to help because his wife followed Holifield and told him about the disabled account. It was a reminder that Holifield’s livelihood had been put at risk in a dispute over $70 bottles of mid-range Champagne.

Kelley Gordon, a The intellectual property lawyer at law firm Marshall, Gerstein & Borun, who was not involved in the Holifield ordeal, says it’s understandable that Veuve would want to monitor his social media appearances. Any product mentioned on an influencer’s account could be seen by some followers as part of a brand association, even when, as in the case of Holifield, she was acting alone and not promoting anything. “The underlying character and purpose of the story is the trick here,” says Gordon. “It is within the right of a trademark owner to avoid confusion, regardless of whether there is a positive spin on it.”

In the end, however, Veuve relented. After a dozen emails to Meta and Corsearch, Eva received a response from Corsearch saying that on February 21 she had already requested to retract the infringement claims. Corsearch did not respond to a request for comment.

Late on February 27, a friend texted Holifield. “Praise the Lord, your account is back 🙌” He hasn’t seen any emails from Instagram yet, but it was true. “I was relieved, but I was nauseous,” she says. Holifield deleted all posts containing a bottle of Veuve and posted a video in which her husband explained what happened. “We’ve come back like a phoenix from the ashes,” she says.

However, Holifield’s return was not complete. A week later, he learned that the Meta Ad Manager account he needed to share his post performance with sponsors had not been restored. That meant there would be no new agreements. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he remembers thinking. “I realized that I’m going to have to fight all of this again and you feel very defeated.”

As she watched her savings dwindle further, Holifield thought about switching to TikTok, but felt she was too old to learn it. His friends recommended lawyers in case he decided to sue Meta, but he began to think that maybe he would have to quit his job as an influencer.

This week, two days after WIRED asked Meta about the Holifield situation, his access to the ads manager was restored. He could resume his work with advertisers. “I feel like I can breathe a little,” she said immediately after successfully logging in.

Holifield is now afraid to mention companies or display logos on his Instagram, except in cases of a paid partnership. She avoids saying words like cheat either similar, or make comparisons between products, actions that have eliminated the accounts of other influencers. She’s also done with crafts and will probably never again utter the name of what used to be her favorite champagne. With so little support available from Meta, Holifield says, “I don’t want to take the risk.”

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