Mark Zuckerberg’s Rube Goldberg machine is starting to squeal. It seems that the scandal de jour is that they knew about the Russian intervention a full year before the election and chose stock price over country. (And customers, come to think of it.) Naturally, Mr. Z releases an apologia and a “fix” statement:
A Blueprint for Content Governance and Enforcement
Mark Zuckerberg / Facebook
My focus in 2018 has been addressing the most important issues facing Facebook. As the year wraps up, I’m writing a series of notes about these challenges and the progress we’ve made. The first note was about Preparing for Elections and this is the second in the series…
Note that it starts with “Me.”
Let me tell you about “me” instead.
For five months of eleven this year, Facebook’s faceless enforcers have given me thirty-day time-outs. Evidently, I’m potty-mouthed and incorrigible. Of course, TWO months of that time was entirely Facebook’s fault to failing to implement a two-step identification protocol correctly. Thus:
Give us your cell phone number
Great. (time passes)
In the middle of a session: YOU HAVE BEEN LOGGED OUT FOR IDENTIFICATION PROTOCOL. (Approximately. Douglas Rain, who voiced the character of HAL-9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey died this week, and it’s his voice that OUGHT to be heard as Facebook’s).
WE ARE SENDING TEXT IDENTIFICATION CODE TO (my cell phone number)
No text ever appears. The number is correct. FACEBOOK-9000 doesn’t know how to dial it.
Later, rinse, repeat.
For two months.
In fact, when I did get back, and wrote about it, Facebook ‘removed’ it as spam. Then decided that it wasn’t.
This is called “being out of control.
That was when I learned the awful, Orwellian truth about Facebook: you cannot speak to a human. You cannot COMMUNICATE. (see screenshot):
I only get back in when they tell me my account has been deleted, and I am able to send an email text to an unseen human and mysteriously, I am back on Facebook.
No explanation. No apology.
Then, for this illustration (which broke no Community Standard* that I could tell, and I’ve read them carefully), another month:
The offending meme
[* FB “community standards” may be characterized as “arbitrary and capricious.” And that’s being polite.]
Which is, I steadfastly believe, legitimate political commentary, and, while hyperbolic (at present) not at all intolerable in a nation devoted to the First Amendment. In fact, it’s rather mild, compared to a lot of political cartoons seen on Facebook each and every day.
I appealed via my “notifications” page and here is the entire “adjudication” minus any whiff of human involvement:
I am reliably informed that FB’s facial recognition technology has been dragooned into seeking out offending memes, and automatically “disciplining” offenders.
Could I appeal? No. Not actually. This is the equivalent of an unwired “pedestrian” button on a light pole. A placebo.
FACEBOOK-9000 offers this:
But when I tried to explain:
I have basically compressed two screenshots into one. Click to enlarge.
And that basic “do nothing” loop has played out consistently dozens, nay, hundreds of times. It is a feature, not a bug.
“WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?” FACEBOOK-9000 asks.
And no matter what you type the answer comes back:
WHOOPS. CANNOT COMPUTE. TRY LATER.
(OH, AND SEND FRANK POOLE TO REPLACE THE AE-35 UNIT WHEN IT’S CONVENIENT.)
Of course, if you try to post, you get this weird, robotic announcement (note the language is the same as the notice above with the bizarro world thumbs up symbol:
“Our Systems consider unusual”? How’s THAT for Orwellian?
And when you do …
And that is the sum total of your input.
You see, LAST time, they at least informed me of what was going down. To which I happily responded:
Now, you might wonder, WHY did I post that?
Why not? Suffer in silence for doing nothing wrong?
So, back again, they decided AGAIN to put me on thirty day holiday. This time, NO indication whatsoever (click on either to enlarge):
OK. WHAT post?!??
So, I continue, and am threatened in that Kafkaesque manner that Josef K came to love:
Now, if you’re an idiot, you will READ up on those standards. See THIS helpful screen:
This is, of course, more Orwellian than Kafkaesque, so I guess that’s friendlier?
For my return from the HAVE YOU SEEN DONALD sentence to Zucker’s Island, rather than show Hitler and cause strong men to weep and women to throw themselves off cliffs, I have “zuckerized” all of my Not See memes.
Robocensorship is the ultimate denial of humanity. Even moreso than militarized killer robots.
To categorically search for and mete out punishments for speech without human interaction* is the closest that you can come to blasphemy in a secular republic.
(* and, as is well-known amongst us FB Jailbirds, easily manipulable ‘bot operating parameters that let someone be thrown in FB Jail–a 30 day suspension after two strikes–for completely INNOCUOUS speech! seemingly only requiring a couple of collaborators to “report” the speech, even if about kittens and butterflys; AND standards that are legendarily arbitrary and capricious; Facebook’s “community standards” are a joke, and the smallest newspaper in America with a webpage and comments section has more temperate and effective control of speech than FACEBOOK-9000’s army of AI goons. Himmler and Stalin would have appreciated Facebook’s embrace of the anonymous snitch as a means of enforcement.)
And, as is ALSO well-known, you CANNOT call Facebook. Period.
Ironic for the World’s Greatest Social Media Network® (at least by numbers: 2.27 billion users!) to NOT allow any interaction with humans at that network!
I could go on. But, frankly, I won’t tolerate it. I am a writing professional of over forty years’ practice, and I spent my early years on the front lines of the First Amendment.
In fact, I keep remembering something that no one seemed to notice, ironically, in the summer of 1984:
I was writing photo captions and extras at Knight Publishing. It’s scut work, but it was work, and I made it a practice not to ever turn down work, if practicable.*
(* e.g. I once spent an afternoon with a fellow who wanted me to ghost write his book about his parrot. Not only did he expect me to do all the work, but expected that I’d be paid out of the royalties. This is not an uncommon practice and, as such, it was impractical. Photo captions paid good cash money.)
The production manager came out of her little cubbyhole (the PM also functioned as the in-house censor, since the standard of censorship at most magazines was NOT– as you might expect — Is it legal? but, instead,the practical standard of censorship was Is it actionable?
Anthony Comstock, the Civil
War prude responsible for
Postal Inspection of US mail
and American Über-censor.
And to seeming deafness, she announced that the postal inspectors were not going to go after any WORDS. They were, henceforth, only concerned about PICTURES.
And I thought, at that moment, of all the writers and editors and publishers who had gone to jail, even died there, for the right to write: to SAY anything without fear of governmental reprisal. I hoped that Anthony Comstock, who had harassed Margaret Sanger out of the country for her practical writings on contraception, was spinning in his grave.
[I have always appreciated the fact that when Sanger returned from legal exile in France, she also smuggled the first contraceptic sponges into the USA in French wine bottles.]
Comstock’s letterhead until founding the US Postal Inspectors
And I thought that the First Amendment was FINALLY not an outrageous lie. Later, I’d be working with Hal Freeman, the plaintiff in California’s famous People v. Freeman, which effectively legalized FILMING pornography in California, and which put the censorship business out of business for a good long time.
That was my objective when I left college and became a writer, and so perhaps I take the casual, Kafkaesque censorship of free speech by adults in a supposedly open forum as a grave rebuke and even as a professional liability.
It’s not like I’m continually writing obscenity or posting video clips from Deep Throat on Facebook.
All of the years of “good will” and networking, viral channels and even my “author” page (ironic that Facebook was trying to “sell” me on a “freelance” page that they could make money advertising with. Indeed, when I logged in this morning, just to make double certain, there was an ad for me to advertise my author page on FB.
I clicked it, and it opened fine! They were happy to take my money. But could I ACCESS or post on said page?
This fools FB ‘bots very effectively.
So, when Zuckerberg pretends to be concerned about protecting us, or about Facebook’s “integrity” or our democracy, please remember that Facebook is, underneath the tinsel, a Virtual State which is either a Kafkaesque Nightmare or an Orwellian Nightmare, or BOTH, and which is, most of all, a living, breathing insult to the notion of free speech in a democracy, or of the NOTION of due process, or, in fact, the notion of vague fairness.
Zuckerberg’s robots have been unleashed to punish the likes of me, I guess.
Then again, Ed Meese’s Commission listed at least eight of my writing endeavors in his infamous Report, and he couldn’t silence me. So Facebook must also go the way of the dinosaur in my book: too dangerous and censorious to trust with my increasingly limited time.
Finally, consider THIS interaction, never explained, never understood. I don’t even know what set it off!
I don’t even know what this IS!?!! (But I was still punished for it)
I know not what course others may take, but give me internet speech liberty or give Facebook death.
I’m willing to accept some limitations: I’m no longer the First Amendment absolutist that I was when young. NO rights are absolute, but speech MUST be as absolute as practical. And the fact that I keep getting silenced before elections is a black mark on Mark Zuckerberg’s name in my book, permanently.
Harvard grad creates company to robotically censor all humans he capriciously disagrees with? How’s that for an introductory note to the Proprietor of Hades?
FACEBOOK-9000 — censors gone wild
I am gone from Facebook, permanently, save to leave an isolated igloo that my hundreds (literally) of friends who know me there can find me. In so doing, I bury over a decade of what I put into it and took from it. No loss to Zuck, though. I am expendable.
So, take whatever Mark Zuckerberg says (beginning with “me”) with several truckloads of salt. The only thing he’s defending is his profit margin.
He punches up and he punches down. While he pretends concern in his pronunciamentos, consider how he treats the less-than-meek, less-than-whimpering on his platform. With respect? Well, how would you characterize the above?
As for free interaction in social media?
Well, I’m escaping the Gulag Zuckerpelago forever.
This is a parody. Parody is explicitly protected.