This morning, I was notified that I have a 24-hour ban from Facebook. It is my fourth ban in an eight day span. There’s no explanation, there’s no clarity on exactly which Community Standards I violated, there’s no information. And there’s no way to compel Facebook to do anything.
So I’m not going to try, no need to beat my head against a brick wall.
Instead, I simply want to explain to you how this impacts me, both personally and professionally.
Personally, this is frustrating and exhausting. I have no information about how I’m violating Community Standards (or if) so I have no control over reducing the risk of future bans. I can’t make an informed choice without information.
I am also struggling with the isolating effects. I can still use Messenger so I am in touch with my friends. But reading other people’s posts and being unable to react or share their content is hard on me. I feel like I’m watching Facebook through a window and can’t be part of the dynamic at all. I can’t help promote important information or requests for support or even just wicked funny humor. I can’t offer comfort, I can’t be present for my friends in their daily moments. What was an inconvenience the first time has not become oppressive and harmful to my well-being.
I am literally continuously waiting for other shoe to drop now because there is no information on why this is happening or how to make it stop. No one likes that feeling, that sense that someone is waiting to smack you down or “get you” which is why is makes such an effective gaslighting and silencing tool.
All of these things, the isolation and the helplessness and the frustration, are eroding my mental well-being. That’s an outcome that could have long-term silencing effects on me.
Professionally, this is silencing me. Facebook is my number one source of blog post referrals so my numbers have crashed. I also use Facebook heavily to signal boost progressive content across my pages, groups and occasionally individual timelines. I don’t spam it out, I take a lot of time to carefully share appropriate content per the guidelines of each group – I invest my time to play by the rules and use the resource responsibly.
Election Day is seven days away. It is a very important election day for Pittsburgh folks and queer folks and the entire Commonwealth. It is the period of time when people will be looking for voter guides, analysis, and more. And I will be unable to contribute to those conversations, at least not without looking over my shoulder for yet another ban.
This is the nomination period for the GLAAD Media Awards, through mid November. I can create excellent content on my blog, but far fewer people are going to read it. I can copy the content to my Medium channel and other outlets, but I’m spending more time trying to reach a diminishing number of potential readers. This loops back to my personal stamina and state of mind.
I’m launching a #NaBloPoMo project during November, using Pittsburgh prompts. That’s not going to be very well read if I can’t share the content on Facebook. The same with #AMPLIFY content. All of my projects will come to a grinding halt. I certainly can’t accomplish much around fundraising for homeless cats or other important causes, much less advocate for you to invest in my blogging.
Fewer readers means lower revenues from the ads as well, ads I run through the She Knows Media network. They help to pay the blog bills. Unpaid bills mean fewer tools at my disposal to do this work.
The general consensus in these situations is that a group of people have been coordinated reports of my content to Facebook and the quantity of reports results in a ban, not the actual content. Facebook denies this happens. No one can prove anything. I’m one of 2.7 billion people so my unique voice and experience simply do not register within the institution. I have 4,489 friends on Facebook so triangulating the likely offenders is also pretty damn impossible. I block people, I put folks on the restricted friend list, I use the tools to keep myself safe. But I can’t figure this out with the tools at my disposal.
So I have to rely on raising a slight hue & cry as well as asking friends of friends of friends to find out what the heck is going on. That’s not particularly reassuring as a strategy or tactic.
You might argue this is a natural consequence of being voted the 2019 Best Local Blog in Pittsburgh and awarded the 2019 Outstanding Blog category in the national GLAAD media awards. I have a higher profile so I have to expect more efforts to silence me. No one really likes a mouthy fat queer disabled lady blogger, at least not when she’s sharing an opinion.
If I didn’t have too many Facebook friends …
If I didn’t provoke the beast with content that’s disruptive …
If I toned down the gay …
If I made my world so small that I couldn’t possibly break any Community Standard …
If I just went to Twitter or Tumblr …
I’m not that person. Facebook is important to me, even if I am not individually important to Facebook. I expect this post to have little to no effect on the situation, but it helps to put it out there. If you’ve been experiencing anything similar to this, please reach out to me.
I can still access my Facebook pages so I’d like to invite you to follow me there both as a show of solidarity and a practical way for me to share information with you.
Sue Kerr, Blogger is my ‘official’ bio page that I set up when I crept near the FB friend limit of 5,000. I’m going to use this page to share my typical day to day timeline content so please join me there.
Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents is the official page for my blog and the space where I share significant amounts of curated content.
And, of course, I am on Twitter and would love to engage with you there as well @PghLesbian24
Finally, I’d appreciate a lot if you would make an effort to share this community content via your own Facebook channels especially any groups where we both belong
Thanks for reading and for helping.