Ever spend time in Facebook Jail? I've been there a bunch, but I don't believe I've ever actually violated the "community guidelines."
I’m not everybody’s cup of tea.
Wait. I didn’t learn that while in Facebook Jail. I already knew that no one is everyone’s cup of tea, and not all personalities mesh. People like different types of music, food, movies, and most importantly to this piece, jokes.
I posted a four-quadrant meme. At the top, it read: “Post-Sex Selfies are Trending Again!”
In the first quadrant, two people were in bed, smiling. No nudity, just the suggestion they’d just made love. Same for quadrants two and three. In the fourth quadrant, however, was a man in a lab coat, standing, arms crossed, in a morgue. Behind him was a body covered in a sheet on a gurney.
Is that objectionable content? Facebook sad so, but without giving specifics. The image contained no violence, hateful language, or nudity, and it wasn’t an attack on a religion or group of people.
Whether or not you fund something funny or not is simply about taste: some people will laugh, others will not. But, when you censor taste or preference, you’re heading into dangerous territory. Different people find different things funny.
Unfortunately, Facebook community standards are a laundry list of things. Some make sense, including violence and criminal behavior, credible violence, integrity and authenticity, and coordinating harm. However, there’s an item near the bottom that stands out: objectionable content.
The problem with calling something “objectionable” is that everyone objects to something.
There are the things we should all object to: racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia. But when you get into policing content, there are problems. some people are offended by nudity, others are not. Some people have a dark sense of humor, others do not. And so on down the line.
I’m currently in Facebook Jail for sharing a Facebook Memory.
Read that again.
Something I posted eight years ago popped up in my timeline, “Hey nathan, remember this?!” I reposted it, and BOOM! Seven-day timeout.
I point that out because I always, always, always appeal the action taken against me, and I always, always, always lose. Because the “quality control” humans trying to keep up with the algorithm are overworked, underpaid, and just don’t care about doing what’s right. It’s easier for them to agree with whatever the algorithm did than to overturn a decision based in merit.
Everyone on Facebook is a user, not a customer.
That’s an important distinction.
Customers receive customer service; they have a say in where they take their business. Facebook, on the other hand, actively does not want to hear from users. In fact, they have absolutely zero in the way of customer service.
Facebook has no 800 number, no chat function, nobody on standby to answer questions or field complaints. Zuckercorn and his crew don’t have to answer to anyone; the site is unregulated, and is allowed to operate carefree.
They exist to sell data to advertisers, and it is our decision to use their platform.
Again, important distinction: it is a platform we use.
We don’t purchase Facebook, we use it. Under Facebook’s terms, rules, and regulations.
I said everyone is offended by something, and that’s what offends me: double standards and hypocrisy.
I’m offended by a platform that uses the phrase “objectionable content” as an umbrella term. “objectionable” becomes a replacement term for “I don’t like that,” which is capricious at best, and controlling at worst. That’s what offends me.
That, and of course the lack of any user support or customer service.
So, what did I learn while in Facebook Jail?
I discovered that I didn’t miss Facebook all that much.
I’m not going to get all huffy and say I’ll never use the platform again, and that being off Facebook made me a better person, that I lost 20 pounds and cured cancer. That’s nonsense usually spewed by blowhards.
I simply discovered that the further I got away from Facebook, the less I cared about it.
And that should frighten Zuckercorn.
Not the idea of him losing me, specifically, but the thought people can discover they can spend less time on his platform and realize they’re not missing anything important.
Over the past couple years, Facebook has been losing users to TikTok.
Here’s to hoping that trickle becomes a torrent.
Like the way I write? Go pick up a book.