Learning from exile

I’ve been back on Facebook for a little more than a day (spent a week in FB Jail for a faux pas) and I have to say I haven’t missed it a lot.  Sure, I missed the ease of messaging someone using the Messenger app, but it wasn’t a complete disaster.   There are other ways to keep in contact with the people who are important to you, FB isn’t the end all or be all of communicating, it’s been made easy over the years, and many people use it as the ‘go-to’ platform, because most of their friends use it.  But before there was a Facebook, there were other forms, and avenues, and without it, there’s not necessarily a dearth of communication.

Once back, I ended up getting into a heated debate with a woman who I went to primary and high school with.  About politics of all things.  And yes, Donald Trump.  It reminded me just how far removed I am with all those people who I grew up with.  I honestly haven’t seen many of them for going on 36 years, so are they really my friends anymore? I’m not really certain what the expiration date is on a friendship.  Certainly there are people I went to college with that I haven’t seen for 32-33 years now, we’ve moved in our separate directions, and I don’t keep up with their day-to-day goings on, (nor they, mine) as a matter of fact I haven’t seen more than one or two of them since I left Poughkeepsie in 1987.

Maybe I’m over the aura of Facebook.  This forced exile seems to have opened my eyes a bit, and I’m not enamored with the platform like I used to be.  I understand that my opinions have to be for the most part cached and edited before I express them there, as the algorithm they use for purposes of censorship have been violated (their word, not mine) three times by me in the course of several months.  I honestly don’t believe anything I’ve either said or posted has been that viral or bad.  But my opinion as they’ve made quite clear, doesn’t enter into their deliberations.  And that’s a sad commentary in and of itself.  In a country where we enjoy the freedom of speech, of expression and so on, where we can’t express ourselves in places like a social media platform is a bit jarring.

Although with the social media wars still going on, the behemoths are gobbling up the little ‘also-rans’ like Instagram, Telegram, WhatsApp, Tumblr, StumbleUpon and so on, so it’s not as if there’s a lot of places you can go that are considered ‘independent’ anymore. Social media programs come and go, and one has to be aware of who owns what, and how you might be running afoul of another conglomerate when you’re attempting to get your work or communication done.  Wordpress thankfully isn’t owned by a big media company, and I own my own domain and host it overseas, so I don’t have to be beholden to any large media company and spend time kowtowing to their rules and regulations for the most part. I don’t get censored here.  Too, I don’t yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded place either, but I could if I wanted to.  Here.  Not anywhere else.

I think I’m still able to learn a few things from my experiences.  Whether or not they’ll stay sunk in, is anyone’s guess.  Let’s hope so.


Hello, Censorship!

I received a notification from Facebook yesterday morning when I turned on my phone, informing me that a comment I’d made back on April 26 had been deemed ‘Hate Speech’ and been removed from the post to which it had been associated.  The comment at worst was a flippant remark about an article from Buzzfeednews.com that had been referenced by a friend of mine.  Hardly incendiary and in no way (in my apparently amateur opinion) should have been considered something hateful or inciteful.

FB’s algorithm (or someone else) disagreed and it was censored/removed from public view.  FB did allow me a chance to have the comment reviewed again to see if it was censored in error, and I pushed that button heartily after reading their corresponding link about their ‘Community Guidelines’ they so thoughtfully provided me.  Nothing whatsoever in what I read suggested that what I wrote was either wrongful, hurtful or in violation of what they insisted was the problem.  About an hour later I received the expected update.  Request denied.

As is the case with people who have encountered ‘Facebook Jail’, when they’re summarily removed from the site for a number of days up to a month, there’s little recourse in getting the powers that be there to change their minds.  They’re holding all the cards, it’s their fiefdom and we’re just guests there, allowing them to use our data and information for whatever they wish to use it for.  It’s not a multi-billion dollar company by accident.

Admittedly, this is really only the second time I’ve run up against this sort of peccadillo.  The last time was a couple of years ago, and it touched upon BDSM, though I don’t completely remember the reference.  What I do recall was, as in this case I wasn’t able to plead my side of the case, to their mind I wasn’t permitted a side, the decision was made whether I liked it or not.  Honestly, for the most part I don’t use FB all that much.  I keep in touch with some people I went to HS with, my birth mother, some of my cousins and that’s about it.  While I have 250+ friends listed on my profile, the vast majority of these people I haven’t seen in more than 35 years.  So if I got kicked out tomorrow, it wouldn’t take me more than a couple of hours to pick up the pieces.  If that.  So nothing much really would be lost by me.

Bottom line, this irked me.  And I don’t like feeling irked.  I’m not thrilled with being censored either.