Facebook's Kafkaesque 'community standards'
You're under arrest. I can't ... answer to your questions, but [you'd] better think [about] what's going to happen to you. ... And stop [asserting] your ... innocence. ... [Y]ou're damaging [yourself].
—Franz Kafka, The Trial
I was recently kicked off Facebook for allegedly violating their "community standards" about five times in five weeks, but I was readmitted the first four times before being kicked off permanently the fifth time.
Each time, Facebook informed me I had violated its vaguely formulated "community standards," which require, among other things, that one treat people with "dignity," but did not bother to tell me what my violation was.
I just assumed I had told the truth about something that is now forbidden.
Each time, I was presented with the option to "disagree" by clicking a button, but since they had not identified my sin, there is no way I could know what I was disagreeing with.
The first three times I was kicked off, I clicked the "disagree" button and was soon readmitted. The fourth time I was kicked off, I was about to click the "disagree" button when I received a message, and a brief apology for the "inconvenience," that I had not violated their community standards and was readmitted.
On the fifth occasion, the procedure was different. I received a message that I had been kicked off and told that I had 30 days to disagree. However, when I clicked the "disagree" button, I was shunted to a portal where I was asked for my Facebook email address and password. Upon providing these, I received a message that my case was already decided and that I could not appeal. Facebook's statement that I had 30 days to disagree appears to be disinformation because it had already been finalized.
One will forgive me for thinking I had been targeted by some frightened person(s) who kept trying to get me kicked off until he finally succeeded.
On one of the occasions when I was kicked off, one of my friends on Facebook told me that when he tried to message me, he was informed by Facebook that I had quit Facebook. However, I had not quit of my own accord. Since Facebook purports to care so much about "disinformation," it might want to stop putting out so much of it.
On one of the occasions on which I was kicked off, I did receive a brief message after being readmitted that did identify my violation.
I had apparently stated on two Facebook pages, Don Lemon's and Joy Reid's (my memory tells me there might have been a third), each plastered with a plethora of pictures of themselves in different locations and outfits, displayed narcissism. However, one finds many people on Facebook who call conservatives "Nazis," "white supremacists," "QAnon," "Russian assets," "traitors," "criminals," and the like, simply for expressing quite ordinary political opinions that literally have nothing whatsoever to do with those extremist views — and they are not censored. There was even an occasion in which someone on Facebook, for no reason I can discern, called me an "m-fer" and told me he "owns guns," and that was not censored. That did happen, and I did cut-and-paste the remark and the individual's name into a file for my records. By contrast, I said that a few media personalities, presumably some of Facebook's favorite lefties, are narcissists, and Facebook tried to kick me off?
There is no prejudice against conservatives at Facebook? Really?
I had had lesser, but quite telling, problems with Facebook's "community standards" in previous years.
On one occasion during the Trump presidency, someone posted a comment that Trump was thin-skinned.
In response, I posted an article that appeared during Obama's presidency, without any comment of my own, that stated that Obama was thin-skinned.
I soon received a message from Facebook that "no one can see your comment" because it is "spam."
Note that I did not in my posting say that the claim in this article was true.
I simply posted the article in order to show that calling presidents "thin-skinned" is quite common and of no consequence. I cut and pasted and saved these messages in a file as well.
Facebook's reason for blocking my post on Obama is incorrect for several reasons. First, I had not made any comment. I had posted an article in which someone else made a comment. I did not even endorse that comment. Second, posting an article like that is not "spam." Spam is generally understood as "commercial" messages sent to a large number of recipients often for the purposes of advertising, phishing, or spreading malware. My posting was none of those. Not even close.
One has to wonder whether Facebook's censors even know what spam is, or if the accusation of spam is just a tool they use to eliminate undesirables (patriots) whenever needed. My real sin in this case was, of course, that I had posted something that could be construed as critical of their beloved Obama und alles auf Facebook das ihren geliebten Messias kritisiert ist strengstens verboten.
In April 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, responding under oath to accusations that Facebook is biased against conservatives, testified to Congress that "There is absolutely no ... bias in anything that we do. ... [O]ur goal is to be a platform for all ideas."
Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) told Zuckerberg that Facebook kicked off Diamond and Silk, two black female Trump-supporters, on the grounds that they were "unsafe" and "terrorists" and asked if that had been justified.
Zuckerberg, under oath, admitted that Facebook made "an enforcement error" and stated that Facebook had reached out to them to make amends. Diamond and Silk tweeted that no one from Facebook had contacted them.
It's a shame Kafka did not know Facebook because we could have got another great novel out of him.
If Zuckerberg is serious that there is no bias on Facebook, he can look up the particulars of my case and arrange to meet me on some public forum, perhaps Facebook itself (they could readmit me for a few hours to teach me a lesson), not to repeat I had violated their vague community standards, which would clarify nothing, but to state exactly what posts of mine got me kicked off Facebook and why. If I have said anything incorrect in this article, Zuckerberg can correct me at that time.
After he informs me in the light of day exactly what my sin was, I will ask him why people who call conservatives "Nazis," "white supremacists," "traitors," and "criminals" over ordinary political disagreements or people who call someone an "m-fer" and threaten that that they "have guns" are not kicked off Facebook, but people who describe Facebook's favorites as narcissists are. Just say when, Zuck, and I'll be there!
Censorship is not only anti-American, but always based on cowardice — the fear that one cannot win a free and fair argument. It is often employed by corrupt insecure tyrants to protect themselves from much needed criticism.
Until [1964, Czech existentialist writer] Kafka's writings [were] banned in the U.S.S.R. ... The ... party apparatus ... does not like being satirized, even by innuendo.
Image: Pixabay, Pixabay License.