Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Booted from Facebook

I was suspended from Facebook today. Not by a person, by the company. This is the same company, I'd like to note, that allows beheading videos. (That link will take you to a news story about Facebook, not to a video.) What was my crime? I quoted Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

The exchange happened on page of a local news channel, regarding whether yoga should be taught in public schools. The question was, "is it too spiritual?" A discussion ensued, in which a poster named Mollie said, "This country was founded on Christian beliefs," and "If you have to [sic] much of an open mind this is how satan gets in and plays mind games on us." I responded to Mollie with this:


As you can see, I opted to screen-capture the image that came up when I next attempted to log back into Facebook. The next screen informed me that I was suspended from the site. Apparently, all someone has to do on Facebook to boot someone else from the site is to report their speech as offensive. I do realize my first amendment rights were not violated: Facebook doesn't have to adhere to that, only the government does. Yet this is clearly censorship.

Are people's religious beliefs really so fragile they feel they have to hunt down and silence those who have a different view? Surely nothing I wrote was so offensive to warrant this action. I am certain many Christians would actually agree with my points—as might people of many faiths, or no faith. 

And I can do nothing, apparently, to object. I cannot defend myself. There was no review process. Mollie (or someone) complained, I was booted, the end. I will be "allowed" back tomorrow, presumably with my head hung low, chastened, silent, compliant. 

I will not feel chastened, I assure you.

*Note: I edited this a bit to reflect more clearly that my account was suspended, not permanently blocked.

22 comments:

  1. Utterly ridiculous. And I assume there is no way for you to try and redress this? Facebook is really messing up recently

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    1. Thanks, Hells. I'd sorta heard about this happening but hadn't realized there was literally no review process. I see no way to redress it; perhaps after I'm allowed back I can do something. (Send an angry email into the void, most like.)

      I'm sure some people (not you) think it's a pointless waste of time to debate people on the internet, and it probably is. I think of it as like Sudoku or solitaire: it's an occasional hobby that keeps my wits sharp. But as pointless as anyone thinks debating is, surely there's no cause for me to be banned. I mean, the stuff I see in comments sections! It practically singes my eyeballs. And yet *this* is the thing that got someone's knickers in a twist. Oy vey.

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    2. You really must send that angry email into the void at the very least.

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  2. Not personally experienced with FB, but I don't believe Mark Zuckerberg is quite as responsive to his flock as the other Pope --the Catholic one.

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  3. What the fuck? I've seen and written tons of stuff that would be considered much more offensive. Yours is ridiculously fact-based and not even opinion. I bet anything the FB employee who banned you is a delusional believer of Jesus magic. Are you saying they will let you back in tomorrow?

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    1. I believe it's an automatic thing. A disgruntled person clicks "report this post," and you are banned—there is no employee who reviews. I will try to verify that tomorrow.

      I am trying to get into the mind of someone who could be so affronted by what I wrote that they were moved to report the post.

      And I just can't.

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  4. That's quite appalling. How arbitrary.

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    1. Indeed. Given how easy it is to do, it's a wonder more people don't find themselves banned.

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  5. That's quite appalling. How arbitrary.

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  6. You can't get into that mind because there's no space left for thought.

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  7. If I had to guess, I'd say the words about her beliefs putting her mind in a scared box were probably what did it. I have to wonder though, if you hadn't added that, would you still be blocked? I'll be very interested to see how this develops tomorrow when you are able to log back on!

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    1. Possibly. But if that's the case, it rather proves my point about how small and scared her mind is. The thing is, this is the internet. You (the general you) can try to squash speech, as she did, but it's never going to keep you safe from other ideas, other minds. Better to grow a thicker skin and learn how to engage in a dialogue with other people; or, stay offline.

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  8. Have you considered letting the local news channel know what happened? First it would expose Facebook (a little bit), but secondly, it could be pointed out that people with one certain opinion on the subject are being silenced.

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    1. Great idea, Mara. I just did that. :)

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  9. The dirty old tricks really are still the best ones: Don't like the opinion of someone? Lock them out of the hall and tell everyone it is a shame you couldn't show up.

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  10. I suggest we all log on and sequentially report anything "Mollie" the whiner posts as offensive. I believe in God. I also know from personal experience that those most wrapped in their religious faith can be incredibly mean-spirited and vindictive.

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    1. Thank you. None of the Christians I know personally are like Mollie, at all; it would be difficult to live in a pluralist society with such a sensitive soul.

      I wouldn't want to boot Mollie even if I knew it was her; that little battle could escalate quickly and would be silliest battle ever. :) Though nicely bloodless. But when I do get back on, I intend to say something on that page.

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  11. I think you are right of course, but I think fighting such a fight is not a good use of you time. The ability to reason will never be that person's strong suit. You can win the argument but it still doesn't mean she will understand your ultimate point.

    As to Facebook, it is a soulless Corporation run by a self satisfied sociopath. The only way to win against such an opponent is not to play.

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    1. Well, yes, I can see that point of view. I see playing Sudoku as a waste of time as well, but people seem to enjoy it and say it sharpens their wits. I don't debate to change the mind of the person I'm debating; I do it to sharpen my own rhetorical skills, and to reach the bystanders. Although occasionally people who resist an argument initially find that days, months, or years later, their mind has changed. My own views on important things have been changed by engaging in debates or watching others debate.

      But yes, sometimes it looks exactly like Monthy Python's "Argument Room." And I get a little head-desky.

      If I left FB, I would hurt Zuckerberg not at all, but I'd hurt myself quite a bit. I have met some true friends there (you can see them in these comments) and this is how we interact. I have met most of them IRL by now, but we're all over the world so we rely on FB to stay in touch. In one debating group, I met a lovely woman from England. We've seen each other IRL twice now, and she arrives tomorrow for another visit. FB may be a soulless corporation, but a soul has emerged from it. It's like a group of friends meeting at a corporate coffeehouse. Starbucks may be soulless, but that group of friends has their own soul, irrespective of the place they meet.

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