Woman Faces Backlash After Charging $19 To Join Westford Facebook Group That She Admins From Idaho, Apology Sounds Even Worse


There’s nothing worse than a townie Facebook admin who gets drunk on what limited power they have. Cathy Steward, who admins the Facebook group Westford Friends, is one of those people.

Cathy moved to Boise, ID a year ago, but for whatever reason still wants to control a Facebook group that acts as a community forum for the 6,000 members. It’s essentially the digital town public square, where people post about school closings, who to hire for a plumber, and where to get a Christmas tree. These are things that no longer pertain to Cathy because she lives in Idaho, but she doesn’t want to give up the group because being a Facebook admin makes people believe that they’re much more important than they really are.

Earlier in the week Cathy decided to institute a $19 fee for the privilege of joining her group.

Newsflash – you are not Planet Fitness. You don’t get to charge membership fees. The day I pay $19 to be in a Facebook group with 6,000 people for the right to see posts about who’s the best chimney sweep in Chelmsford, is the day I literally start burning money. Karen here clearly thinks her group is much more important and irreplaceable than it actually is.

It didn’t go over very well and the other three admins all left the group. A lot of people voiced their displeasure so a couple days later she announced that the fee was being waived.

And she made a long post explaining what happened.

First of all, 6,000 people is a relatively small group. Nothing of value is happening in that group that makes it worth a penny.

Secondly, stop complaining about how busy you are running the group. You chose to do this. You can choose to hand it over to someone else who will do it for free. You’re also choosing to institute rules designed to avoid hurt feelings, which require more policing and time on your part. This is a choice you are making. The best groups are the Brockton Hub and Discussing Fitchburg Now because Larry Boyd and Sam Squalia let people post whatever they want. If you get the boot from one of those groups, you earned it.

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Thirdly, the fact that she’d say it’s “none of your business” where the money goes, is further evidence that she deserves every last piece of public scorn directed her way.

Fourthly, spare me the “people wrote mean things about me” nonsense. You did something controversial on the Internet. That’s how it works. You tried ripping people off and profiting off of a de facto public forum that you pronounced yourself dictator of. Get over yourself.

Fifthly, she also planned on charging businesses to advertise. Think about that for a minute. The members of the group are the product she’s selling, right? She’s accrued 6,000 people, and local businesses can market their products to them on the page. So then why is she also charging the members? She’s charging people so they can be targeted by ads. Meanwhile she sits back and collects money from both parties for hosting a bunch of people on a website she doesn’t own. That’s not how any of this works.

Sixthly, she’s not providing anything of value. It’s not like she’s creating original content, or giving something away. She literally just occupies a space that people have gravitated towards.

It gets better.

All the money goes to her. Must be nice to have no overhead costs or employees and still think money is owed to you for a service that you’re not even providing – Facebook is.

She’s conducting phone interviews for admins.

Bragging about how people want to buy the group off of her so she won’t be handing it over.

Something that is against the rules, and Congress wants Facebook to crack down on.

Kicking people out for “liking” comments that were critical of her.

Totally not an insane, power hungry dictator.

Some have suggested that she not run a community page for a town she hasn’t lived in in over a year.


She’s also still selling ads for local businesses.

For the record, Facebook does let you do this. But you have to do it through them, because obviously they’re going to want their cut. Your Facebook group doesn’t actually belong to you. Mark Zuckerberg owns it and can take it whenever he feels like it. Trust me, I have extensive experience seeing that happen. This would be like opening up a store in the mall, charging people to come into your store, and then paying nothing in rent to the owner of the mall. So technically this policy violates Facebook’s terms of service, not that anyone cares about that.

Either way, the idea that you think a Facebook page with 6,000 people is valuable real estate that businesses would pay to promote themselves on shows you just how much this little power has gone to her head. I could make a Facebook page with that many followers in less than 48 hours. There’s already a splinter Westford page with over 2,000 members. The Brockton Hub has 60,000 members and it’s free.

Cathy has gone full Greg Bates. Never go full Greg Bates.


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