Skip to main content

Republican Abuse — Or Why I (Reluctantly) Joined Facebook

The other day, I signed up for Facebook. After holding out for decades, I begrudgingly succumbed. It was my only way out of Facebook Jail.

Last Friday, shortly after posting my latest, “The Oligarch Agenda,” my cousin — who has been sharing my rants with her Facebook crowd — informed me that she couldn’t share this one because somebody had reported it as “abusive.”

I suspect Republicans.

It seems I’ve been hard on the poor dears. Seems I’ve offended their delicate sensibilities.

Children in cages are, of course, fine. Sabotaging the Post Office, no problem. Voter suppression, botched pandemic, economy in freefall, negligent homicide of 160,000 Americans. What’s the problem?

But my post, of all things, has somebody all verklempt. Yes, I implied that they might be racists, misogynists, xenophobes, homophobes, and religious cranks, but why would that bother them? Isn’t that a badge of honor? Aren’t they proud of that stuff?

Try to share ‘viralranting.com’ on Facebook and you’ll be told that you can’t. The link “goes against our Community Standards.”

A careful reading of those copious and long-winded standards reveals much that Facebook is supposedly protecting us from. My post, however, did not run afoul of any of them, and is in fact quite compliant.

Yet not only is this particular post now blocked, but indeed the entire blog — all 42 posts — cannot be shared on Facebook. I’m tempted to consider it an honor, but both the marketer and the citizen in me is outraged.

If you’ve read the offending post, I invite you to read it again, checking carefully for the telltale signs of abuse.

Did I cyber-stalk a celebrity? Did I post nude pictures of ex-girlfriends? Did I bully, harass, or exploit anyone? Did I write anything that can be construed as offensive to women, people of color, immigrants, Native Americans, or the LGBTQ community? Did I disparage Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, or Zoroastrians?

I did, admittedly, abuse Republicans. Gleefully so. Guilty as charged. But I’m quite certain this is permitted under, like, the First Amendment. Remember freedom of speech? But these days, who knows? Maybe free speech is only open to Republicans. Did I miss an executive order?

So on Saturday, after resisting Facebook for as long as it’s been around, after watching friends and family move significant parts of their lives into its jurisdiction, after being long convinced that there was much about it that made me uncomfortable, I signed up.

Not because I’m feeling more sociable — my wife will confirm I’m as curmudgeonly as ever. Nor is it because I’m looking for a bigger megaphone on a platform that wantonly amplifies some of the worst people life has to offer.

I joined for one reason only: so I could appeal.

Yes, there’s an appeals process, but it’s opaque in an almost Orwellian way. It consists of one email address — appeals@facebook.com — that I got through word of mouth. It seems to be an active address, but there’s no acknowledgement that they received my email, let alone my request for reinstatement. There’s also a link to their developer site, that some people have said might work, but the success rate is unknown. I’m told persistence is required.

It turns out there’s an entire sub-culture of people whose accounts have been taken into custody by Facebook’s thought police. There is no apparent due process, and I don’t know how many were ultimately unblocked. Nor do I know how many people have lost their livelihoods because some coward with a grudge decided to put out a digital hit on them.

What’s especially galling is the anonymity of the complaint. I remember thinking I had some constitutional right to confront my accuser. But again, rights are looking less than inalienable lately.

So basically, I’ve been accused by a faceless person, tried and convicted by a faceless algorithm, and punished by a faceless corporation. All so that an empty-headed Republican can be spared the horror of my thoughts.

But maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way. Maybe I’m overlooking the fact that at least one empty-headed Republican has actually read my post. Which might mean there’s at least one opinion this person did not get from Fox News.

These days, we take our victories where we can get them.

 

P.S. For reasons unrelated to the Facebook problem, I will soon be changing the name of this blog to a new set of words — no more than three — as soon as I decide what they are. As Rachel says, watch this space.

Berkley MI

Tuesday 08/18/20

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Elise Stefanik Wants to be Your President

It isn’t often that The New York Times and The Washington Post do lengthy features on the same politician in the same week. So when Elise Stefanik was given several thousand words in two major papers, my curiosity was duly piqued. The two pieces ( here and here ) are similar profiles of Stefanik, age 38, and her remarkable transformation from Harvard-educated “moderate” Republican, to ultra-MAGA ideologue. The subhead of the Times article states the theme of both: To rise through the Trump-era G.O.P., a young congresswoman gave up her friends, her mentors and her ideals. So how does a double feature like this happen, especially when there’s no immediate news driving it? Stefanik was not in the spotlight, though it was clear she would soon be taking a leading role in the new GOP House majority. So it could just be the coincidence of two reporters intuitively seizing on the same story. It happens. But it could also be that Stefanik herself, working with a clever publicist, set o

The Trump-Putin Bromance is Getting Another Look

The arrest last week of Charles McGonigal, former head of counterintelligence for the FBI, may or may not prove to be a watershed moment in our understanding of the Trump-Putin conspiracy. It’s still early, and the depths of the story have yet to be plumbed. So I’m not going to weigh in on that (you can read about it here ), except to note that people who’ve been watching the Trump-Russia show for over a decade are now going back to their notes and timelines, looking at old events in light of new information. And the more we all look, the more the miasma of Russian subterfuge stinks up every narrative. If a murderous oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, could actually recruit the FBI agent who’d investigated him — which the McGonigal affair will apparently show — who knows what else was going on? There is, I think, the need for some sort of “unified field theory” of the Trump-Putin relationship. There is much that we’re missing on at least three separate tracks of that bizarre bromance: Tru

Another Rousing Comeback for Antisemitism

I was in my late twenties in the late seventies, a single man sitting in a piano bar on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was St. Patrick’s Day, and I was in friendly conversation with an older Irish couple, there to celebrate their history. He wore a green tie, she a green blouse. Alcohol was involved. The conversation was free flowing, as random encounters with amiable strangers can be. When the talk turned to history, which can happen on St. Patrick’s Day, I put forth the notion — stolen, I think, from a Leon Uris novel I’d recently read — that the Irish and the Jews had much in common, that their shared history of oppression bonded them, that their experience of suffering and privation was deeply imbued in both their cultures. Not an especially profound insight, but the husband — to the surprise not just of me, but of his wife as well — was having none of it. In his sloshed but strident state, he insisted that the suffering of Jews couldn’t possibly be compared to what the I