Facebook’s Fishing Fail
Facebook, we need to talk.
Who am I? I’m your accidental catch, the guppy you snagged while trolling for hate groups. Listen, I’m glad that you’re finally dealing with the scads of bad actors who use you to meet and plot, but this little fish is here to tell you your method ain’t foolproof.
I have this blog, see, where I write humor and post memes on LGBTQ subjects. But instead of visiting the General Gayety blog itself, most of my fans prefer to interact with General Gayety’s Facebook page. A few thousand people read and respond to what I post there, so the page is important to me.
Yes, I know 3,500 is a teeny number to you. Don’t scoff. It’s not becoming.
You probably can’t imagine my surprise when I received word from you in early February that some eight months earlier I’d posted a photo that offended your standards. As a result, you said, I was forbidden from posting for 30 days.
The photo in question showed a white man in KKK garb holding a sign claiming white people have “superior jeans.” In the foreground a Black woman giggled. Not a queer tableau, but because it poked fun at white supremacists, I considered it a perfect fit for General Gayety. The Trump years widened my lens, don’t you know.
Is it animal, vegetable or mineral that evaluates posts for suitability, Facebook? Clearly whoever or whatever has that task saw KKK robes and automatically tagged the picture as promoting white supremacy, when it did the opposite.
I immediately appealed the decision, and to your credit you swiftly responded that you were mistaken. Whew, I thought, that’s over.
But it wasn’t. After wrongly singling me out for hate speech, you still blocked me from posting for 30 days. Mighty churlish of you, Facebook.
I fretted during that period what my audience thought of my sudden silence. I couldn’t post an explanation, nor could I suggest people visit the actual General Gayety blog. All my readers knew was I went quiet around the time of the Super Bowl, perhaps struck dumb by the thumping the Buccaneers gave the Chiefs.
What I feared could happen did: I lost followers. A handful drifted away, presumably over my perceived lack of output. I could do nothing but wave a hanky goodbye.
You know what I’m going to say next, Facebook. You’re aware that over the years I’ve sometimes paid you to advertise my page. You and I both know General Gayety doesn’t have broad appeal; when it comes to niches, LGBTQ humor is darn niche-y. So I’ve given you money to target the queer and allied community, and you’ve loved every minute of it.
I paid you to find me followers, and through your mistake I lost some of them. I’d remark on the irony, but given how this mess started, I’m none too sure you grasp how humor works.
After my 30 days were up, you allowed me to post to my General Gayety page again. But then you forbade me from boosting any post, meaning I couldn’t even pay you to publicize what I wrote, not that I would’ve, so vexed was I. The only reason I knew you eventually dropped that particular penalty was you suddenly showered me with suggestions to start paying for ads again. I can’t keep up with your moods, Facebook.
Worst of all, it’s clear you’re currently sending my posts out to just a small portion of my followers. You’re barely sharing what I write. A stiff breeze would be more effective. Are you expecting me to pay again to re-entice the people who already followed me? That’s cold. And, I hope, illegal.
Facebook, how long are you planning to keep me in purgatory for your mistake? You continue to treat me as though I’m liable to burst into a fit of white supremacy at any moment.
No, don’t talk to me about algorithms or other technical matters. First, I don’t understand them. Second, all that feels irrelevant as this situation drags on. You have problems with your vetting system. Admit it. Fix them.
Let me return to my guppy life.