By Michael Patrick, Ph.D
As a full professor who teaches media, culture, and communication at an international university in central Europe, I now have a great story to share in class. I’ve been banned for life on Facebook!
I had been on Facebook for about a decade. My first incident with Facebook took place a few years ago when they automatically removed a holiday illustration of Charlie Brown and his little tree, declaring it pornographic. I laughed it off.
I eventually left Facebook earlier this year after observing their on-going shocking and regressive censorship actions, such as banning unpopular news reports by established and credentialed news organizations who had offended their politics. They’ve kept it up unapologetically.
A few weeks ago, my brother and I decided to launch a fun vacation Vlog this May, called “The 2021 Done With Covid Tour”. It has nothing really to do with Covid, but the word annoys the knuckleheads. The tour, as widely explained, is about two old guys off the leash and stirring up fun in South Beach, Key Largo, and Key West in early May.
My Facebook account was dormant, but it had not expired. I considered using it for a place to reach about 2,000-plus friends with news about the tour only. When I finally attempted to log back into Facebook , I was greeted by a message that I had been “banned for life” with no appeal—their words. No explanation beyond the nondescript “community standards” slogan.
A clue had come a couple weeks earlier when three social media platforms, WordPress, Instagram, and LinkedIn, all three sent me simultaneous notices objecting to a piece I wrote criticizing Hollywood’s legendary discrimination against Asians in casting. For decades, Asians had to appear as railroad or laundry workers, cooks, Triad gangsters or martial artists to land a part. That has started to change, and I touted new opportunities for broader-thinking film-makers in China.
That drew shrieks from controllers across platforms. They baldly accused me of serving as a sponsored writer. They demanded to know who was paying me for such opinions.
Inasmuch as I’ve never received a nickel for my personal writing in social media, I ridiculed them for their pimply-faced defamations of me as a journalist. I now post notices that “this post is not sponsored” as my way of trolling with humor the little nuisances behind the accusations.
I learned through a variety of sources that Facebook and others sought to round up all the undesirables such as me, load them onto cattle car trains, and ship them off their platforms. Evidently, I was one of the writers who had disturbed them, evidently with my acerbic humor and my nonconformist points of view, so I had made it on their special list for planned “deletions”.
Just for the sport of it, I found my way back on Facebook using a pseudonym, only to promote the tour. That worked several days until this morning when I posted a piece on the tour as follows:
“Self-loathing: That moment in packing for a beach getaway when Covid bingeing is no longer an excuse, and you must face the raw realities of exposing your bloated being to the world.
Good heavens, man- no sponsors here!”
Today’s post sent Facebook into a tailspin. They blocked my next login and closed me down for my pseudonym’s ripe content.
All of this will make for great dissection via other platforms and in classes in the months ahead.
As one federal judge has noted, these social media platforms have far too much control and influence, and they pose a genuine threat to free speech. Frankly, they need to be broken up with stiff regulations, and laws passed in many nations to make them financially liable for free speech violations. Unfortunately, that won’t happen anytime soon.
In the meantime, I am getting a special T-Shirt made about Facebook’s hateful and pernicious habits. Getting banned twice from Facebook will remain a badge that I will wear proudly and loudly— and laugh about it in class with my students.