Facebook Jail

Parody illustration for Facebook

The social media giant is fighting regulation and responsibility through strategic incompetence.

The better question probably is “What took you so long?”

Facebook put me on notice recently. “This comment goes against our Community Standards on violence and incitement,” the warning said. Do it again and we’ll restrict or disable your account.

Well, that certainly made me feel, well, less ashamed than amused. Facebook being the paragon of virtue that it is.

And those infamous Facebook Community Standards? How do they come up with them? How do they enforce them? What community do you have in mind, Facebook, when you call them community standards? The nearly 3 billion Facebook users? That’s not a community. That’s a planet.

I’ll confess my sin.

A Facebook friend – I think it was former local guitar slinger, P.K. Lavengood -passed along a meme asking what phrase are you really tired of hearing. I don’t often respond to these things. I think they are information harvesting devices. But my answer popped into my head and I thought it was both accurate and a fun response to the question.

What am I tired of hearing? “I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you.”

That was the answer to all kinds of questions, like “Can I have your chocolate chip cookie recipe?” Yeah, but if I told you I’d have to kill you.

I get why it got flagged under the new scrutiny that social media such as Facebook face. Computer software is easily configured to seize upon chosen words. And the word, kill, can refer to violence. It can also mean stopping a project: “kill that initiative.” Aggravated: “I could have killed her for calling me out on the dance floor.” A big win: “He made a killing on that stock purchase.” Another kind of big win: “You should have seen her scene in the play. She killed it.”

You get the idea.

Kill is probably the second most versatile four-letter world in the English language.

And after it became obvious that Facebook and other social media companies saw plans for an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol coming together and did nothing about it, internet and social media observers were literally begging for oversight. Police your content better.

I thought, hey, Facebook, Meta, or whatever your name is, I’ll contest my probation and click the “out of context” button or whatever that option was that you made available.

The response came back almost instantly. Their “reviewers” confirmed the violation of Facebook Community Standards and reiterated that if I do it again, I’ll be suspended.

Boy, those reviewers are fast! Nearly 3 billion users worldwide and they reviewed my post in seconds.

What we’re seeing here is not the innovative tech giant that Facebook pretends to be. Instead, it appears to be a half-assed attempt to say, see how responsible we are?

But given how clumsy this little episode has been, it seems more like an example of strategic incompetence – doing a job so poorly that you can make the argument that you tried but it’s just not possible to do.

There’s a lot more to be said about Facebook, Google, Twitter and the dominant social and technological media. They’ll do anything to retain and expand their dominance, and proposed anti-trust legislation is aimed at scaling back monopolistic actions and practices.

Facebook in particular has served a lot of people well, keeping them in touch with friends, family and other people they haven’t talked to in years.

But this strategic incompetence is just too transparent. Gathering “red flag” words is a tool, but a very low tech one. Testimony from Facebook insiders say that making money and fighting governmental oversight are goals one and two.

Facebook, you’re killing it.