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Banned Again (Within Just Two Days) in the Kafkaesque World of Facebook

Banned Again (Within Just Two Days) in the Kafkaesque World of Facebook

Sentencing in the social media happens without trial, evidence or a chance of appeal.

Banned Again (Within Just Two Days) in the Kafkaesque World of Facebook

2400 1602 Michael Petraeus

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f you were wondering why Critical Spectator suddenly went silent on Facebook again then wonder no more – my personal profile was banned for another week. Just two days after I got my page and personal profile back on Facebook – after weeks of suspension, including complete ban on all activity for publishing a post about how someone else called me a Nazi, Facebook banned my personal profile yet again.

I have no doubt that faceless, nameless losers who can’t take an opposing opinion – and yet love to whine about free expression – keep reporting whatever they can find about me, just to get me in trouble, to erase my online existence and years of work.

But Facebook is very much complicit in it, through either ill will or horrendous incompetence of its people. Of course due to its opaque practices it is impossible to know whether anybody does this out of their desire or are they simply just this stupid. Perhaps both.

Perhaps you think that I’m really nasty and just got myself into trouble again. That I must write horrible things about other people and that’s why I get banned all the time – so much so that I had to register a second account 4 years ago, which caused trouble with my page lately (that’s what Facebook unpublished me for).

Well, here are some examples of Facebook’s enforcement of its “standards”. As you already know I was banned for writing how someone else called me a Nazi – but the original comment was not taken down.

If I didn’t have access to Business Support and actual living, breathing people on the other side, I wouldn’t have been able to argue my way out of the situation. But most users don’t have that luxury.

Ultimately after preventing me from doing anything for two weeks, Facebook relented under the burden of evidence, and lifted restrictions on my personal profile.

For two days.

On Wednesday I was greeted by a notification that some comment of mine did not follow their standards on harassment and bullying:

What comment? Where? When? I don’t know – Facebook does not reveal any information. There is no appeal procedure I can use and the complaint form is permanently broken:

Like Kafka’s Josef K. people get tried and sentenced by Facebook for imaginary crimes in front of an equally fantastical court, by people that have no names, with no evidence provided, no chance of defense and no appeal.

I think this sort of behavior surely must breach consumer protection laws in any civilized country but of course who’s going to sue Facebook? They can get away with anything unless they are not firmly regulated by law. No single user, no small company is going to take them to court due to prohibitive costs and general time expense that they do not have. Unless you can hire a team of lawyers you’re outta luck.

In addition, whenever your personal profile is restricted you can’t publish anything on any pages that you manage. Your entire professional life grinds to a halt with a click of a button of a nameless bureaucrat.

To make matters worse regulators and politicians in most countries do not even have experience and understanding of how the company works. It actually reminds me of corrupt bureaucracies of the Soviet Block that I was raised in, where bureaucrats could – and often did – destroy both people and their lives through a combination of malice and incompetence. Empowered by poorly set standards and laws, they suddenly found themselves in positions of unwarranted power – and started behaving much like the guards in the infamous experiment of Philip Zimbardo.

I spent my life trying to escape this reality and yet it caught up with me in quite an inescapable way, being created by the world’s foremost free market democracy in the form of Orwellian Big Tech there’s no running away from – unless you settle for obscurity, a de facto exile.

Facebook has managed to recreate some of the worst bureaucratic practices ever created by man, widely present in countries rotting for decades under the most oppressive regimes of the 20th century. With 2.5+ billion people under control, comrade Zuckerberg is history’s leading totalitarian.

What gets you banned?

As I was fighting to get my account back (again), through a detour via Facebook’s help desk for Businesses / Advertisers, I realized that my account is actually saddled with “violations” that are equally bogus as the ones that I’ve been slapped with recently.

So what terrible crimes have I been found guilty of, you may wonder? Well, let’s take a look. I currently have three other violations in my account, that I was banned for from Facebook in the past year:

Here’s the first one, September 2019:

Yes, I shared a post from actual POLICE station in one of the Swedish cities, that was warning Polish immigrants about other Poles trying to take advantage of them.

And so I wrote that this is why I neither like nor trust Poles – not to mention being Polish myself. I’ve tried to appeal this idiocy but to no avail.

And yes, believe it or not, I was banned for this share for 30 days.

The second one will require a translation from Polish:

What it says is basically a tongue in cheek double-entendre under an article about a transsexual couple in Poland. The closing phrase “bez jaj” can mean both “you have to be joking” and “no balls”. Obviously making such remarks is a heinous crime – but (as you will see in a minute) gloating over a decapitated person is not.

My violation no. 3 was probably the only that could be considered somewhat serious – I angrily wrote that reading comments of Polish people (on local politics) that it’s not surprising nobody came to aid the country ripped apart by Stalin and Hitler. And that reading the dumb things people write today, perhaps they should have been allowed to finish the job.

Now, this is harsh – as harsh as I often am – but I speak from a position of a Pole, commenting on utter ignorance and while the comment is hyperbolical, it’s very much within the freedom of expression (especially since it’s by a Pole, about Poles).

Finally, while I was banned earlier in April, I was also – additionally – restricted from advertising on Facebook for two months, over a GIF with Hitler – from Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds – that I posted SIX MONTHS earlier:

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Turns out pasting clips from movies is a no-no as well. In the oppressively politically correct world of Facebook there can be no place for art, satire, comedy, culture. Just brain-dead “Community Standards” enforced by the company’s algorithms – or equally thoughtless moderators.

What doesn’t get you banned?

Now you may be wondering – how does one stay on the right side of the think line? What is within Facebook’s extremely high standards? I’ve done a little experiment and tried reporting controversial posts or comments to see what will be taken down.

As we already know, calling other people Nazis is perfectly fine. So is, as it turns out, Photoshopping dog heads on them and spewing hateful epithets. This is totally in line with Facebook Community Standards on Bullying and Harassment.

To be fair Facebook did remove the comment calling my mother “a disease ridden whore” – kudos to them! But it decided that the following are fine to stay:

 

Or the following:

 

Now, I use often acerbic and even profane language but the worst I ever call people online are “idiots”, “morons” and the like. And yet somehow I get banned for “bullying & harassment”, while authors of these – and many more comments – are totally free. So now you know – “idiot” = wrong, all of the above = “fine and civilized” by Facebook’s own standards.

But yesterday I ran into an interesting thread – on a page called “Okay, Boomer”, which is really a hard-left, borderline communist community. The post was about a landlord who was decapitated by his tenant in America. The comment section is an orgy of ridicule of the victim and celebration of the act. I tried reporting some comments there but with no success.

 

This, of course, is just one thread, under one post out of thousands if not millions. And this sort of behavior is totally condoned and protected by Facebook – either calling for or celebrating violence that supports one’s twisted ideology. But heaven forbid you want to make a snarky remark about transsexuals – off to the jail you go, losing access to your business accounts, to your advertising campaigns and thousands of followers.

It’s pretty clear that Facebook is either unwilling or unable to exercise proper quality controls – and it is the highest time for legislators around the world to rise to the challenge and impose strict quality standards that would compel the company to act in the interest of the public – not itself.

Before it’s too late.

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Michael Petraeus

Economist, marketer, designer and business strategist publishing about the past, present and the future.

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