On June 26, 2020, I woke up to a Facebook nastygram on my iPad. It covered the entire page and consisted of a “warning” because two months earlier, I had posted about a game app being advertised on Facebook that was racist and “fucked up”. Facebook claimed that I was being racist, so they “warned” me and put the “orange badge of shame” on my account for a month. I vented in my blog about it, mainly because they offered no real way to explain, or get any recourse. I appealed their decision, because they really got it wrong. I guess there weren’t any humans working, because they still claimed that my description on Facebook about the racist game app was racist, in and of itself. It wasn’t, but what can you do when you’re fighting against artificial intelligence bots with no hearts or minds?
Well… this morning, I got another nastygram from Facebook. But this time, it was about something I posted in 2017!!! Check this out…
Now… as you can see, this is a picture of a finger. Someone has drawn a sad face on the finger and a gun with a splash of red ink that looks like blood spatter. It’s obviously a joke. Maybe it’s not a joke in the best taste, but lots of stuff on Facebook is completely tasteless. I did share this picture in 2017, but it was in a comment section on my own page. My Trump supporting cousin kept badgering me about our conflicting views and wouldn’t give it a rest. So I posted this photo to show him that he was driving me crazy. It worked, when words wouldn’t, and he finally backed off and left me alone. And it was FOUR YEARS AGO. I’m not even Facebook friends with this cousin anymore. I think he left Facebook for Parler.
So now, my account is “restricted”, and I’m not allowed to “go live” or “advertise” on Facebook for thirty days. That’s fine, because I don’t do either of those things, anyway. I’m not sure why they would restrict me from those two specific activities. Maybe it’s because they don’t want me getting attention for alleged “self-harm” or “suicidal” posts from four years ago? If I really was feeling like offing myself, I sure wouldn’t announce it on Facebook. But even if someone did feel that way, it doesn’t seem very supportive to send them a message like this.
What is especially irritating about this situation is that this year, I see there’s no way to appeal the decision or offer any context to this decision that was most likely made by a bot. I could understand a year ago, when COVID-19 was a new thing, that there wouldn’t be human beings looking at this stuff and judging whether or not these decisions made by artificial intelligence are legitimate. But in 2021, a lot of people are vaccinated and in the office again. Why is Facebook digging through very old posts and suddenly giving people violation notices? Especially when I complained last month about some twit who cloned my account and they said they can’t do anything about it. And I complained three years ago about someone sending me an unsolicited private message inviting me to kill myself, and Facebook couldn’t help me there, either?
Facebook has a history of pissing people off with its extreme wonkiness and complete lack of accountability. Last year, a glitch in their algorithm that sent out multiple false violation notices of spam caused one woman to rage quit a group I’m in. She thought the admin had reported her when it was really just a Facebook SNAFU.. I got dinged by a similar bug in 2019… which proves it’s not just the coronavirus that is causing these fuck ups. For a company that has so much power, it sure does mess things up a lot.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I miss the days before social media. Yes, it’s fun to interact with people and catch up with friends around the globe, but social media participation comes with a price. It means allowing a corporation to monitor and censor free exchanges of ideas, which is a real shame, especially when the exchanges don’t actually lead to any harm. It’s one thing if someone uses social media to hurt people, like Trump has. I am glad Facebook did at least kick Trump off for the next two years… but look at what he got away with until they finally took action against him! He actually inspired people to stage an insurrection! But it’s another when someone is obviously kidding around and gets harassed. I posted a silly photo depicting a finger committing suicide four years ago, and suddenly I’m “seeing red” for the next month in 2021… It’s ludicrous!
I do take some comfort in the realization that I’m obviously not the only one… Here’s someone on Reddit who got banned for posting “nudity”. But their offending post, like mine, was originally posted in 2017, and involved a topless man in a movie. And today’s featured photo was recently shared by a friend of mine from Gloucester. I don’t know if she actually got dinged by the “offensive post” algorithm or was just sharing a funny meme, but clearly this was a problem last month, too. Otherwise, why would that meme have been made?
I think Facebook has gotten way too big for its britches. I truly regret the day I joined it. I may soon be leaving it, if this kind of bullshit continues. It’s a private business, so Facebook is entitled to its rules, but I can still vote with my feet. Life is too short for this crap.
At least my arm is back to normal and in just ten days, I can go out in public again and enjoy life offline. So there is that to look forward to. And there’s always YouTube, too.