As you may already know, my Facebook account was “disappeared” last week with zero warning and no mention of what my offending action might’ve been, and – the only means by which to appeal their decision was to upload a scan of my photo ID. At the time, I fell hard on the “oh, hell NO” side of that option, and said as much when I posted my first mention of it earlier this week.
I started poking about The Googles in the time since, and saw that apparently, this is a thing Facebook has done on a pretty regular basis, with regard to FB asking for identification of some sort during this appeal process…and someone suggested the notion of redacting the information on my license and uploading it with the photo intact.
That struck me as – at the very least, a nice middle finger to the process – so I black-lined everything on my license except my name and my photo and uploaded it via the provided link, and…within minutes, I had already gotten the notification that my account was disabled and the decision was final.
So, that being said, I’m not sure where that leaves my eleven year old Facebook account with over 3,000 friends and countless photos and diatribes and the like.
Now, just for the record – every photo I’ve ever posted on Facebook still lives in digital form on my fledgling home network server here, so the photos aren’t the loss that they might be for other folks who aren’t as meticulous about hoarding their data as I’ve been over the years…and honestly, I’m not so vain as to feel any real sense of loss that my last decades’ worth of ramblings provide any real value to social media, at large.
It’s the principle of the thing, though.
So I’m still examining my options, but I’ve largely resigned myself to the notion that the old FB account is gone.
Now, I have created a pseudonym account, and some of you know this already…I’ve been taking very tiny steps, as I don’t want to wave a giant red flag by “re-friending” everyone all at once or anything of that nature – and I’m not sure that I’ll bother to engage with FB that much, moving forward – save for managing the band’s Instagram and FB group.
I’ve largely been “over” the Facebook platform for some time, and I don’t think I’m alone…I’ve watched a lot of friends evaporate from the platform over the past year or so, and many of us who continued to use it for interaction purposes did so while holding our nose.
So in a sense, I suppose they’ve done me a favor – I have a book to finish, recording projects to focus on, interviews to film, plenty of shit to invest my time in, and less and less time to devote to them.
In the meantime, if you get a friend request from the guitar player from a fictitious band out of a Cameron Crowe movie, know that it’s not a total stranger…
so I woke up this morning to a notice from Mark Zuckerberg’s Anti-Social Media operation that my Facebook account has been “disabled”:
It vaguely referred to the notion of “violating community standards”…but, unlike prior times when I’ve had my peepee slapped by the folks at FB, this time there was no specific information whatsoever about what I did to offend the Facebook Gods.
I wrote a long post quite a while back that was received with similar disapproval…without quoting it word for word, it was a diatribe about how folks on the right would rail hypocritically about the debaucherous lack of character of various politicians on the left, but how it was completely acceptable when the person committing identical offenses was on their side of the political fence.
And yeah, it was written in my own particular brand of colorful language, and it wasn’t particularly kind to the folks I was skewering in the post…but it wasn’t exactly out of character. I had written similar posts before without any real consternation from the Powers That Be, but this time – 2017 or so – the Facebook Gods found themselves newly offended.
But, when I received a notice that the post was “flagged for violating community standards”, it quoted the post, and gave me the option of either appealing the decision (during which time the post would be hidden, pending appeal) or deleting the post. I appealed, of course, and eventually they said that the post would have to be taken down in order to restore my account to full functionality.
So…fuck it, I took it down.
Now, let’s clear the air about a couple of bullet points before we move forward.
Facebook is fucking GARBAGE.
We all know it. Go ahead and take a minute to search your heart if you need to…I’ll wait. I’m betting you’ll come to the same conclusion.
We all KNOW it’s garbage, and for a lot of us, we feel like we need to take a shower sometimes if we think too long about the notion of staying on the platform after watching it fall victim to bloat, to ridiculous invasions of privacy, to Big Brother-esque changes to the way the platform presents content on our timelines, and – year after year, continuing to fail to learn from The MySpace Lesson…becoming less user-friendly and considering themselves invincible. BUT – for some reason, we stay.
Why do we stay?
I can’t speak for everyone, but for me – Facebook is the sole medium I have available to me to remain connected to a certain group of people. There are a ton of friends that I’ve made over the years for whom Facebook has become the thread that holds us together.
So – I hold my nose and I log on multiple times a day so I can see what my friends are posting, how their families are doing, what trials and tribulations they’re dealing with at a given moment…y’know. Life Stuff.
But the whole Facebook Problem is never completely out of view.
Their refusal to police their content, to allow incendiary fake news posted by accounts managed by dubious operators, and to meet it all with an Alfred E. Neumann-esque shrug has been cumulatively infuriating…and many of us have been waiting, hoping, praying for something to rise up (much as FaceBook did when MySpace became trash) to replace it as a social media platform, but – crickets.
So we grind our teeth and we internally rationalize the continued use of the platform and – not unlike what it must feel like for people with actual integrity and empathy after a visit to WalMart – we ponder whether or not to take a shower to try and wash the unclean feeling from our skin on occasion when the shitty practices of the platform become too obvious to ignore.
But….damn, ALL those people. Musician buddies that I don’t see as often as I’d like. Friends who started out as fans that I’ve gotten to know over the years. Chinner and Mooy in California. Tommy Fitzgerald in Oregon. Old friends that I’ve loved forever, like Appleseed back in Philly, and new friends like Patrick in Tehachapi…it’s made it easier to maintain a single thread that runs in a ton of different directions.
But there are times that I feel dirty for staying.
This morning, though…Facebook may have made the decision for me. Account disabled – OK. Sure. I figured I’d do the usual dance, appeal it, take a look at what post I’d made that must’ve pissed them off…
But – whatever the offending post was, Facebook wasn’t citing it. At all.
No notice of what I’d done, what I’d said, what I’d posted that had violated their unimpeachable “Community Standards” – which was a new twist.
I mean, it’s not like I’m Leland Sklar, and I’m an old hand at getting jacked up by the Facebook Ethics Counsel – it had only happened to me once before.
So, OK then…whatever. So I click on the “appeal” link, and that’s when the gravity of the situation began to sink in.
Facebook was asking me to upload a JPG of my Photo ID.
Yeah, read that again if you need to…they wanted a photo of my drivers’ license that, as they outlined on my screen, they would keep on file for anywhere from thirty days to ONE YEAR, at their discretion.
I didn’t pump the brakes…I slammed on the brakes and put my phone away and got in the shower to get ready for work.
Does this shit happen? How have I not heard of this being a thing before now?
Do these assholes actually think that I’m giving them a copy of my PHOTO ID for them to keep on file after literally YEARS of hearing stories about Facebook data breaches, Cambridge Analytica, and various other means by which they routinely give away the personal information of their users?
No. Fuck that.
There has to be a line somewhere. And I think they just drew it.
So – that said – barring some divine intervention, there’s not much chance I’ll be returning to Facebook, and…I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that yet. I’m still vacillating between the “anger” stage and – well, in this case, the approach of the “relief” stage.
I’ll have to make a concerted effort to find other ways to keep in touch with folks I won’t see on there anymore, but – truth be known, I already have alternate contact information for a great many of them, so it’s not as though I’ve lost my sole tether to a ton of folks.
It’ll take some navigating, but…there’s a lot more anger at the fact that the last thing I posted, the thing that so incensed the butthurt, uptight Facebook overlords was a short, two sentence status update that read “Remember back when it was OTHER countries that gassed their own people? Good times.”
If you can’t find consensus in that statement…if that somehow “violates your community standards” – then FUCK RIGHT OFF.
In the meantime, I’ll rage against the machine on a more appropriate platform for this particular, 2020 brand of political screeds and I’ll stand aside with a long stick and a bag of marshmallows and wait for the inevitable day when Facebook burns to the ground.