Editor’s note: On a dreary day in November, progressive writer / essayist Jim Wright was given a ‘Facebook timeout’ referred to as ‘Facebook Jail.’ He got sent there over an organized campaign by some (lovable scamps, as he now refers to the perpetrators) who objected to him being factual and truthful. Thousands spoke up and showed their support in various ways, even spawning its own hashtag, #freejimwright. The following is Mr. Wright’s accounting of ‘what he learned’ (and didn’t learn) from the experience. (SC)
What I learned from being banned by Facebook:
First, THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT, I appreciate it more than I can say.
1. Facebook hours are like dog years. 24 hours to Facebook is not the same as 24 hours out in the real world.
Because Facebook exists in an alternate dimension where time works differently.
My supposed ban was lifted … I don’t know, a day ago? Two? Beats me. It’s not like Facebook sends you a message or anything. You just sort of have to guess. Does it work yet? No. Now? No. How about … now?
Nor does Facebook provide you with any information on WHY you were banned. No detail other than the vague “violation of community standards” and in my case, an additional threat to permanently ban me if I did [something something gazpacho] again. No idea what that might be.
(So, if I disappear from here completely, well, you know as much as I do about why. Send lawyers, guns, and money)
Then, a day or so ago I got a cryptic email: Hello, A member of our team accidentally removed something you posted on Facebook. This was a mistake, and we sincerely apologize for this error. We’ve since restored the content, and you should now be able to see it. The Facebook Team.”
I … wait. That’s it?
Eventually, you come to realize that you’re in an abusive passive-aggressive relationship with Mark Zuckerberg:
What did I do?
Well, it must have been something?
You’re obviously upset.
But even after that email, I was STILL banned.
And I STILL can’t see the supposedly restored content, though I’m given to understand others can.
2. When you’re in Facebook Jail, you cannot post. You cannot comment. You cannot use the messenger system.
Repeat, YOU CANNOT USE THE FACEBOOK MESSENGER SYSTEM. YOU CANNOT USE THE FACEBOOK MESSENGER SYSTEM.
This is important and we’ll come back to it.
3. You CAN appeal your banishment from Facebook …
… via Facebook.
Except, see item 2.
4. When you’re in Facebook Jail and you have a large audience that sends tens of thousands of messages to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook employees might send you Facebook messages via the Facebook Messenger System asking how they might help.
See item 2.
5. It’s fairly apparent that even Facebook has no idea how Facebook works.
6. Even after I was eventually let out of Facebook Jail, I couldn’t post anything to my Facebook page because between the process of being banned and you people plastering my page with thousands of messages, well, things were dorked up so bad that … I don’t know, Facebook doesn’t know. Something something gazpacho. It took two days to sort out. Some data was likely lost. I can’t see certain entries, including the one that got me banished, though I am assured they are there. I don’t know. I’m past caring at this point.
7. I was banned because a bunch of [lovable scamps] complained to Facebook that I was being mean to them. I wrote about this on Stonekettle Station in detail. This was picked up by a number of news media sites, who also wrote about it.
8. So several hundred people wrote to explain:
a. How Facebook’s automated system works, even though that’s exactly what I MYSELF just explained in the Stonekettle post, thank you very much, and
b. How I should maybe use different words even though that wasn’t the problem and the words I do use are not violations of Facebook’s community standards, and
c. How I shouldn’t be mean to [loveable scamps] who are nice misunderstood people who enjoy [happy butterfly], [bright flowers], and [fluffy kittens].
9. Henceforth, I will use euphemistic substitutions such as [lovable scamps] for proponents of National Socialism, [happy butterfly] for a certain form of warlike jackbooted authoritarian government, [bright flowers] for the efficient and sanitary elimination of ethnic and religious groups, and [fluffy kittens] for invading Poland, so as to avoid running afoul of Facebook’s automation, grammar [scamps], and actual [lovable scamps].
10. Even when you are directly confronted with [lovable scamps] who self-identify as [lovable scamps] and have their pages decorated with [lovable scamp] images, quotes from [lovable scamps], symbols of [lovable scamp] philosophy, and the ideology of [lovable scampism] and who tweet, facebook, Instagram, and blog endlessly of [bright flowers], [happy butterflies], [peppermints], [warm full tummies], and how much they hate [milk chocolate], [flower power] and Jews, you will get an endless parade of [concerned skeptics] who deny the existence of [lovable scamps] in their midst.
Those people are fucking idiots.