Hello Facebook Followers.
(Also, various and assorted others)
You're wondering where I've been all week, aren't you?
Well, I was suspended. From Facebook.
For the last several years, it's become tradition for me to be suspended on or about the anniversary of 911 and this year is no different.
Facebook's idiot mechanical brain decided a post from two weeks ago (which I suspect was targeted by people mad about my annual 911 post but who couldn't flag that any more because I've taken it down and moved it here, so they picked a target of convenience) about a new law in a certain state, a post that literally mentioned not one single human person, political party, gender, identity, or ideology in any fashion whatsoever, was somehow a violation of its "harassment and bullying" policy.
And I was suspended.
Formerly, when this happened, there was some sort of appeal process. But I was not offered such this time because Facebook claims to be "shorthanded during the COVID pandemic" (which I suspect is shorthand for "we just don't want to spend any money on actual people and we don't really give a shit how that works out for you, Zuckerberg needs a new mansion) and thus unable to review anything their mechanical brain flags.
Basically, they're letting software make judgement calls regarding the subtleties of human expression and interaction without any human oversight and those judgement calls are final and absolute.
No chance of error there, eh?
You could write an entire scifi subgenre of horror stories about all the things that could go wrong with this idea.
Nevertheless, here we are and it's impossible for me to modify my behavior to prevent this sort of thing in the future, because I have absolutely no idea what part of the two-line throwaway post violated the policy.
What terrible thing did I say?
This: "Really not surprising a bunch of Dollar Store cowboys who worship the idea of manifest destiny, rough frontier justice, and some idiotic heroic mythology of a lost cause as their own Thermopylae would once again legalize vigilante-style justice and the open carry of six-shooters."
That's what I said.
Now how is that harassment and bullying?
Harassment? Who did I harass? Literally who does that comment harass? How does it harass them?
Bullying? Who did I bully? Texas? I bullied the entire state of Texas? Like the entire state. All those big tough giant hat wearin' beefsteak-eatin truck-drivin' pistol-packin' shitkickers. I made them cry. Stonekettle is bullying us! We are emasculated! We'll never be able to wear our pointy-toed boots in public again! We might as well be Vermont!
They've been bullied. By me.
I did that.
I guess that's what Facebook is saying.
I mean, I'm going to just go ahead and interpret it that way, because it amuses me to do so. But, I don't really know, because there is no way to know.
There are no guidelines, no explanation, no feedback, no appeal, no help.
Nothing. Facebook provides nothing in the way of support whatsoever. So there is literally no way to know. Thus there is no way to do better. No way to learn. No way not to do it again.
You literally cannot comply with Facebooks policy, because there is absolutely no way to know how you violated it.
And yet, every single day my Facebook DMs are literally full of people calling me all sorts of horrible things, threatening violence. One guy literally threatened to show up and rape my wife and son while I watched. I got in contact with the police, they went to his house and arrested him and he's in jail right now, but when I reported it to Facebook they said it didn't violate their policies and, hey, if you don't like it, just ignore him.
Because those things are not, apparently, harassment or bullying according to Mark Zuckerberg.
But, Goddamn, don't bully Texas.
Again, I don't know.
This is the third time this year and it's likely to keep happening. And every time I'm suspended, it's for a longer and longer timeout.
Facebook doesn't care how much time and effort you've put into their platform.
They don't care if you're actually trying to comply with their idiotic and arbitrary rules.
They don't care.
And because Facebook does not care, the company has given over management of the platform to software, to machines and algorithms, and removed human training and judgement from the loop.
And you can't argue with machines.
Sooner or later, I'm going to get suspended permanently. It's inevitable at this point. Especially since the robots are crawling backward through my timelines and going after posts that didn't violate policy ten years ago, but somehow do now -- even though they are about subjects long gone.
Facebook does not care and will not listen.
Twitter isn't any better, just different in its terribleness.
The rules of social media are applied arbitrarily and there's just not one damn thing you can do about it.
I think eventually social media will have to be regulated like any other utility. Maybe not eventually, maybe pretty soon and right now.
And when that happens -- and it will just as soon as Republicans are back in charge and they come for those platforms that booted their demigod Donald Trump -- it's going to cost Facebook and Twitter billions.
And they will have no one to blame but themselves.
These companies are not going to get a whole lot of sympathy from me, even if it is Republicans who stick it to them for their own selfish reasons.
There is no point in complaining about it though I obviously am, or talking about "fairness" or anything else. Social media isn't fair. Despite the vaunted appeals of Zuckerberg and Dorsey to "free speech" and "public dialog" social media isn't about those things and never has been.
It's about profit.
And I will say these platforms are a pretty good example why the free market cannot be trusted to manage itself. Facebook and Twitter, and their various technological vassals and satellites, don't give a good goddamn about you and why should they?
If they actually did, they'd treat you like people instead of like an insurance company denying a claim.
It's as simple as that, really.
But until that regulation happens, if it does, you're just shit out of luck.
I can't work this way.
It's just not possible. Literally. Even if I wanted to, Facebook won't let me.
So here's what we're going to do:
I'm going to move political commentary back to my own website, here.
No. No. Stop screaming. This is a good thing for me and for you.
Why me? I'm hoping that becomes self evident by and by.
Why for you? Well, for starters, you keep telling me how much you miss long form. Okay. Here it is. Also, no comment limit. Comments are limited on my Facebook page. Not everyone can comment on my page, that's the most common complaint I get. But, over here, well, anyone can comment so long as they obey the rules. Blocking. I can block you from my Twitter and Facebook pages, or at least make it difficult for you to see my content. Here? Even if I don't let you comment, you can still see the posts. Also vastly better formatting, higher resolution. Etc. Etc. Also, a bunch of other cool stuff that will eventually become apparent.
Now, does this mean I'm going to completely abandon Facebook? Or maybe Twitter?
Not unless Zuckerberg and Dorsey kick me out of their worlds permanently, which is of course entirely possible at any random moment for totally arbitrary reasons. You pays your money and you takes your chances.
What I'll do is post mostly non-political content on Facebook, hopefully things that won't get me afoul of the Faceborg Collective. And political commentary will be summarized every day on Stonekettle Station and a link posted on Twitter and Facebook and in the Facebook Stonekettle Station Group.
Meaning you can comment here on Stonekettle Station directly, you can comment on Twitter, you can comment on Facebook as you always could, and if you're a member you can participate in the resulting comments in the Stonekettle Station Facebook Group. So, you get more options to post your voice and opinion, you get more content, and you get it more often and in more detail.
And if I do get suspended permanently, and my Facebook or Twitter pages taken down, or I go silent on those social media sites, well, you don't lose anything because it'll here on my website. If you don't hear from me on Facebook, come here and see what's going on.
This will also make sharing content easier -- as you can just post a link to the article on Stonekettle Station instead of trying to figure out how to share Facebook and Twitter posts to various platforms and forums.
I've also updated Stonekettle Station to make every page a secure connection, which should fix access for those of you working through corporate connections.
And I'm making other updates as I go.
Anyway, that's how it is.
First daily summary went up on September 15th.
Second one yesterday on the 16th.
I'm working on today. See you around.