Abusive?

When Facebook first banned this blog from their site, the reason given was that this blog is spam. Yesterday when I tried sharing the post from the FB share button (which is now removed) at the bottom of the post I’d just written, I got a different explanation. They said: Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.

Abusive? Me? Really? I have posted a handful articles (out of a total of 2,997) that might be considered controversial, though I do try to steer a middle ground. Even so, those articles were in no way abusive, weren’t even very controversial since I wasn’t taking a stand so much as trying to sort out what I felt about the political turmoil. Sometimes when I think I’m being the most helpful or logical or innocuous or agreeable, it surprises me that not everyone agrees with what I say. To be honest, I don’t always agree with what I say. As with those few controversial posts, so often by writing for this blog, I am trying to work through a problem, an idea, a spot of confusion, and sometimes, after I’ve posted the article, I realize that because of the writing, I came to a different conclusion.

But abusive? I cannot think of a single time I said anything that anyone could say was abusive. I always try to be nice, even when people aren’t nice to me. It’s what I do. It’s who I am.

Although I did not appreciate this blog being blocked because of spam, I thought maybe their bots had picked up on the repetitious bio at the end of the article, or perhaps all the links I used in the bio. Even though it did no good, I removed the links and am alternating bios to make sure other sites don’t have the same issue, but as it turns out, that wasn’t the case at all.

Abusive?

That upsets me because it is so unjust and pejorative. What’s even worse is the current system, where anyone can say anything about any person for any reason, and no matter what harm is done, there is no recourse, at least not with Facebook. I have messaged them via FB. I have emailed them. I have sent letters to their headquarters. But apparently a few grouches (that’s the only thing I can think of — that people were grouchy and ticked off that somehow a post of mine got added to their feed) can determine someone’s fate.

FB was my primary means of promotion. I spent a lot of money with them over the years. It’s probably people who saw those posts who labeled them abusive, rather than any of my FB “friends,” but that’s not my fault. I’m not the one that posted the links on those feeds; FB did.

Ironically — and cruelly — whenever I do happen to stop by FB to see if someone left a comment on my page (which I will be doing less in the future, so if you want me to see a comment, please comment here on the blog rather than on FB), I find copious messages from FB telling me I’m not posting enough and I find even more messages telling me how important it is for me to pay them to promote my posts.

If it was me personally they had a problem with, I could simply set up a new account like so many others have had to do, but they have no problem with me personally. Just my oh, so non-abusive and very personal blog.

I have found a way around their ban for now — I reblog my posts to another blog, and then post the link to the second blog on FB. I wouldn’t even be doing that much, but several people said they missed too many of my posts. They could, of course, just sign up for my blog, but these are people who spend time on FB, and so that’s where they like getting their notifications.

I know FB is a huge site, but Google is even bigger, and when I had a problem with Google for banning my blog, they responded to my query, and WordPress helped me fix it. (It was a bit of stray code — innocuous code — that somehow got attached to one photo in one post.) But FB? Nope. Once you’ve been branded as abusive, that’s it for you . . . forever.

No one has to prove their accusation. No one checks the truth of it. To me, acting on unfounded allegations is abusive. My posts are not. If you disagree and can point out any abuse, please let me know so I can change it. Just be gentle. My feelings are hurt enough right now.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

14 Responses to “Abusive?”

  1. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    This also sounds like a Kafka story. It’s as though a content analyst made a typo when the problems began that screwed up their view of who you are and what you are doing. Then, it became an error in their system that lives for ever. They’re probably not even sure what the problem is, so this time they wimped out and said your attitude is abusive. In several weeks, you’ll have a new label like “poison ivy hugger.”

  2. rheashowalter Says:

    I am sorry to hear this. I no longer am on Facebook because of this very kind of thing. Nothing I said on there ever got me in Facebook jail because I rarely said anything about what I was feeling or thinking…like my feelings of how FB was treating people, etc. It is costing me some money but I now get my news from internet and some paid sites that seem to be honest and try to give real news or at least give me something to think about. I feel really badly for those who have used FB for promotion of their wares. I get your blog by email and I think I missed reading yesterday’s, but I certainly cannot imagine you being “abusive” in anything you say. I never could figure out the “spam” thing either. I guess I am just not fact checker enough as I read whole sentences and paragraphs, not just one word. Never before has the world been so upside down in my long life.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you for signing up to get my blog by email. I’m glad you did; I’d hate to lose contact with you. It’s funny, but FB was my the site of my online life for many years. I made real life friends there, but things have changed. Gotten ugly, actually. Yep. An upside down world.

  3. Uthayanan Says:

    I had a Facebook account without my name and personal informations and I had created to test.
    But some personnel, professional, family and other reasons I have stopped.
    I have an idea what happened to you but I am not going to discuss here.
    But not “because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.” Only with one person politically, financially well influenced and corrupt !. Some reason he doesn’t like your article and cowardly find some people to write against you. He might have some direct contact and influence with FB.
    This is my point of view.

  4. rodmarsden Says:

    Facebook has been acting strange of late because of some dispute with the Australian government. Me? I don’t set out to be abusive. Any story has its conflict and if you are telling a story even a true one there is that to consider. All very 1984.

  5. Estragon Says:

    From your description, it sounds to me like the share attempt was caught by an algorithm. I’m assuming the flag was thrown very quickly (eg. minutes) after the share attempt? The “content” could be a word or phrase that in a different context may have been reported as abusive, or it could be some other (possibly hidden) element (say, a single pixel link, pic encoded with steganography, etc.). The algos will always have false positives and false negatives, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn they’re tweaking on the side of false positives these days.

    Back in the day (early 1990s) I started an internet business. As it grew, I wanted to avoid exactly the sort of problem FB et al now find themselves facing. IMHO, these sorts of businesses should behave and be treated in much the same way as an old-fashioned phone company. They provide the wires and backend facilitating the connections between subscribers and others, but have no interest in the content itself. They help investigate crime (wire-taps, supplying subscriber identification, etc.) to the extent required by law, but otherwise simply stick to providing the “pipes”. In my view, this puts the risks and rewards associated with content where it belongs (with the producer/subscriber), and encourages the carrier to focus on efficient high quality carriage.

    Instead, they’ve stepped in a steaming pile of user-generated content, and in doing so have blurred the lines of responsibility for content. The result is they’re now seen to be behaving more like book publishers or broadcast undertakings. I do understand that the business model (target ads based on sophisticated understanding of content, traffic, and subscriber networking) requires getting further into the weeds of content than a simple phone line, but I think they could have drawn a line in the sand closer to the common carrier end of the spectrum instead of the publisher end. Where they’ve ended up seems to me like it could put them in an existential fight with governments, and a place that really limits the social utility these platforms might otherwise have provided.

    I see these businesses as part of a larger tension between “freedom to”, and “freedom from”, where conflicts between individual and collective rights and responsibilities get balanced and resolved. For now, it seems the pendulum has swung in favor of collective “freedom from”, in which anything that might be offensive (especially to the non-privileged) is presumed to be so by default.

    Although I don’t do the FB thing myself, I do still check my late wife’s from time to time. I’ll try sending a friend request or whatever it is one does, as I’m curious what it is that FB algos find so offensive..

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The only thing I ever post on FB is the link to this blog.

      It’s possible that this notice has been around ever since they blocked this blog, it’s just that I never tried sharing it this way before. There couldn’t be any new reports of abuse or spam or anything since the link to this blog appears nowhere on FB. In fact, they erased all my blog posts going back to the very beginning, along with the accompanying discussions. Most of them were important because of the grief discussions. I still have the ones here on the blog itself, but none of those on FB.

      I hadn’t thought about it, but you’re right about the “freedom from” vs “freedom to”. Because of the emphasis on “freedom from”, we’re losing our “freedoms to”.

      I accepted a friend request that might be the one you just sent me.

  6. Uthayanan Says:

    Hi Estragon,
    I feel you are the best person as an intermediate around to resolve Pat face book misunderstanding technically, lawfully, with tact, diplomatically and you have all the ability to resolve this matter with FB. I don’t have your personal address to write to you. So could you kindly do something if Pat accept.
    With all my king regards.

  7. tallgirl79 Says:

    Facebook is on drugs. I stopped really saying certain things because they don’t look at context and I have literally been banning me for 30 days off NOTHING. THREE times I got 30 days. And Instagram (owned by Facebook) is trash too. They have been going back SIX YEARS to find my vids with music in the background to mute. I challenged one snd they put it back. I called them “petty” and told them that I always have music on in the background. I don’t think Facebook or Instagram want people anymore. They troll everyone for no reason.


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