Sunday, September 11, 2016, 11:48 p.m.
Chances are, if you’re involved in community activism, Black Lives Matter, social awareness, anti police brutality or just about anything that calls out corruption of the system and/or government, you are going to get put in Facebook jail a time or two, or three, or more. Facebook started out as being the building block of real social media, connecting people worldwide by sharing photo’s, post updates about life in general. You were not required to use your full government name and Facebook certainly didn’t censor or punish you as they do today. Mark Zuckerberg made his billions off of stolen ideas then became a publicly traded company. I knew then that Facebook was going to shift and not in a positive way.
Social media has played an intricate role in spreading social awareness and protests that sparked up all over the world. Social media was crucial in helping the Occupy movement grow worldwide as it did. With the help of Twitter and YouTube, more and more information began pouring out about corruption in our own system whether it was concerning posts that informed the public of x, y, z violations taking place against protesters or video’s of police officers manhandling peaceful protesters all over the country or the seering images of a college police officer intentionally spraying peaceful protesters in the face with pepper spray. Not long after, video’s would go viral of various police officers abusing their power by brutalizing a minority or even downright murdering an unarmed man as we saw with Walter Scott and Eric Garner. Then Facebook demanded that an individual with a Facebook account be required to use their government name otherwise the individual would no longer be able to access their account. Facebook also tested out their own facial recognition program that is still used today. Take a photo, upload it and test it out to see for yourself. Many photo’s uploaded have already pre-tagged people in the photo without you ever clicking a button. Does it sound like “Big Brother” to you yet?
As some movements faded out, more movements sparked ahead. In America, Black Lives Matter came to be a popular term among the movers and the shakers who wanted to see police violence change in this country – for police officers to be held accountable for misuse of power and outright murdering of the black community. Social media continued to be used to spread the word like wildfire informing others of the ongoing’s taking place. Faceboo soon came out with the “Facebook Live” feature that allowed people to record live events taking place by the user. For most people, it’s just a cool feature to post mindless chatter. To others, this tool would be used to document police once again misusing their power. For example, Philando Castile was murdered live on Facebook after his girlfriend began recording the interaction between the officer and Castile. Castile’s girlfriend is heard saying that Castile told the officer he has a CHL and had a gun concealed in his vehicle. When the officer demanded his ID, Castile reached for his wallet and was immediately shot by the officer. The video of Castile’s murder went viral within minutes. Not even an hour after the video was spreading across the world, Facebook removed the content from the girlfriend’s account. Later Facebook would claim it was just a “glitch”.
A few months ago Mark Zuckerberg announced that he would be running an investigation internally within his company over several complaints of censorship, especially where it concerned Black Lives Matter activists. Many cited that their posts would be taken down by staff of Facebook claiming that the posts “didn’t comply with community standards” although many posts never violated those standards. Unfortunately as quickly as Zuckerberg announced the investigation, the issue went dead and we never heard anything more about it. Clearly this was a ploy to save face and pretend that Facebook wasn’t acting as fascists, censoring free speech among users because to date, Facebook staff has continued to remove content that doesn’t violate community standards while turning a blind eye to other users who use open, blunt racial slurs, threats, and explicit sexual comments.
December 2015 I had been banned 6 times by Facebook. What happens is that an individual sees a post or a photo/meme they deem inappropriate and they “report” the content to Facebook. Facebook generally reviews the report within 6 hours and makes a determination whether they’re going to remove the content or let it remain. Take into account if you have an individual who is constantly trolling your page daily reporting every item you post, including photo’s, video’s and comments, it is easy for Facebook to ban you. Since December, my primary account was banned a couple more times but most recently, I received a 30 day ban by Facebook and their reason for the ban was astonishing! At this point I realized that Facebook employee’s are not only censoring material, but taking posts personal and banning a person because of it. A couple of weeks ago racial slurs were tossed at a group of black individuals who had enough of these slurs. Seeing the reactions of these white supremacists were quite comical and I posted a comment “They are MAD! White ppl mad. That’s scary!” Within 4 hours I was banned 30 days from Facebook.
The problem is that the Facebook employee lacks any real training on how to do their job without being a biased, racist, fascist asshole. I’ve reported content when called a “ni**er lover” and received feedback claiming that it didn’t violate community standards. Recently a man was upset with a mattress company in San Antonio because they recorded a commercial that basically made light of the 9/11 event by using mattresses as the twin towers only to have people fall into the mattresses, resembling the towers coming down. This commercial was advertised by the owners daughter who was in the video with two male employees, attempting to push a 9/11 sale. It backfired and since the commercial aired, the company has been closed indefinitely. People across the country have taken to Facebook to air their issues with the mattress company by writing one star reviews on the company Facebook page. I crossed several posts that all mimicked the same sentiments until I crossed one that really upset me. A man by the name of Bert Falcor had written that he hoped that the children of those in the commercial were to get raped. That statement alone sent me boiling. You just do not say that about children. What kind of sick person would wish that on a child? It was one thing to be upset with the participants of the commercial but to echo these sentiments towards innocent children really struck me. Though I rarely report content on Facebook, I couldn’t help but report this to Facebook. Above that, Bert was commenting on other reviews telling one user how if “they came to New York, he’d f*ck them in the ass”. Basically bullying anyone who had an opinion that didn’t align with his. By morning Facebook responded stated that the post did not violate community standards.
By Sunday evening I received a notification from Facebook once more claiming that they removed my post because it violated community standards. When I saw the post, I realized that a Facebook employee took my post personal when I spoke out against Facebook for refusing to remove the content posted by Bert Saturday night. I included FB workers being pedophiles for refusing to remove content referring to the rape of children as well as calling them Fascists. Facebook didn’t take that too kindly and removed the post.
Moments later I received another notification from Facebook citing that the images they’ve chosen “might contain nudity” and I needed to verify whether the photo’s contained any nude images.
Petty is a word that comes to mind when I think of Facebook these days. As frustrating as it has become to be under a microscope via Facebook, it almost impossible to communicate with anyone if you’re not using social media so what do we do here? I’ve heard some say that we the people should create our own Facebook. As good as it sounds, anything that will bring a million users will eventually be corrupted by Big Brother/our government for the sake of spying or keeping tabs on individuals who refuse to conform to being a sheep. As a kids born in the 70’s, I miss the days of the use of telephones, pagers, personal communication. Analog wasn’t as easy to track and though social media has been wonderful for connecting many people, it has also blown the door wide open for constant surveillance, for internet trolls who hate anything out of the social norm and much more. I guess one way of dealing with the insanity of Facebook is just to deactivate the Facebook account and walk away or… there is always MySpace.