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SURVIVING “FACEBOOK JAIL”: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Politics, Social commentary on June 16, 2022 at 12:10 am

Facebook likes to promote itself as a place for “more than three billion people around the world to share ideas, offer support and make a difference.”

But there are limits to the ideas that can be shared on Facebook. And while Facebook likes to boast about its “Community Standards,” these are enforced in a totally arbitrary way.

There is simply no predicting what will trigger Facebook’s ire and land a post—and its poster—in “Facebook Jail.” 

Facebook doesn’t restrict itself to banning posts that are libelous and/or harassing. Its definition of “Hate speech” is so all-encompassing it can be stretched to cover anything—including historically valid statements. 

Our Favourite Banned Facebook Memes - The Inappropriate Gift Co

In Part One I laid out the reason for my sending a letter of protest to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s longtime Chief Operating Officer.

In this part, I will offer specific steps Facebook can take to keep faith with its stated mission to be a place where people can “share ideas.” 

Noting that I had been banned from Facebook for seven days for posting “Americans are historical illiterates,” I cited the noted historian, David McCullough, and an article from the Smithsonian Institute to support my statement. 

At the 2015 National Book Festival

David McCullough 

fourandsixty, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

I then quoted my offending paragraph in full:

“Tyrants cannot be appeased by giving into their demands–it just convinces them that they can demand even more from their victims. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain tried that approach at Munich in September, 1938, giving Adolf Hitler a big chunk of Czechoslovakia. The reason: To prevent a war with Nazi Germany. Less than a year later, war broke out anyway.” 

This referred to yet another act of cowardice by Democrats in refusing to stand up to the aggression of the Republican Right.

There are serious historical parallels between the closing days of the German Weimar Republic and the rise of Adolf Hitler—and what is happening today in the United States.

Example: In the Weimar Republic, all that stood between Hitler and total power was a frail old man—President Paul von Hindenburg. In the United States, all that stands between Donald Trump and absolute power is a frail old man: President Joe Biden.

Revelan elogios de expresidente Donald Trump a Hitler | Cuba Si

Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump

Too many Americans remain ignorant of their own history—not to mention that of other countries.

That was the point of my post. But on Facebook, it’s “Hate speech” to point out the ignorance of criminally ignorant people.

Then came my third and last point.

Third: Facebook claimed: “You can disagree with the decision if you think we got it wrong.” That implied that I would be given the opportunity to state why I believed the decision was wrong and have that objection carefully reviewed. 

But, immediately afterward, Facebook stated: “We usually offer the chance to request a review and follow up if we got decisions wrong.

“We have fewer reviewers available right now because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. We’re trying hard to prioritize reviewing content with the most potential for harm. This means we may not be able to follow up with you, though your feedback helps us do better in the future.” 

Using COVID as an excuse to avoid responsible behavior is despicable. If Facebook is  going to ban people for supposedly violating its “Community Standards,” it has a moral obligation—if not a legal one—-to give them a chance to share their side of the story.

That is how a court in a democracy behaves. Making a decision based on whim and secrecy, with no appeal possible, is the behavior of a star chamber.

Facebook jail Memes

I then noted two ways by which Facebook could avoid such disgraceful episodes in the future:

  1. Providing its users with an 800 number whereby they can interact directly with the Censorship Committee and share their reasons for posting the comment(s) they did;
  2. Providing its users with at least an Instant Messaging capability, so they can do so.

My letter to Sheryl Sandberg closed as follows: 

Im aware that Facebook is a private company and thus can do whatever it likes. But it is also—supposedly—a market for the airing of competing ideas. And to behave in the despicable manner I have described is as much a disservice to the reputation Facebook wishes to have as to those who are negatively affected by its censorship decisions. 

Frankly, I don’t expect to get an answer from Sandberg, any more than I expected one from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

Still, there is this:

On August 23, 1968, Russian poet Yevgeney Yevtushenko sent a telegram to Communist Party Boss Leonid Brezhnev and Premier Aleksei Kosygin, protesting their invasion of Czechoslovakia. 

No doubt, Yevtushenko didn’t expect his protest to change Soviet policy—just as I don’t expect any major changes—for the good—from Facebook.

These will come about only if:

  1. Enough Facebook users get so fed up with arbitrary bullying that they seek another social media format to speak their minds; and/or
  2. Enough members of Congress demand major changes in the way Facebook regularly makes a mockery of the First Amendment. 

Neither of these is likely to happen anytime soon.

SURVIVING “FACEBOOK JAIL”: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Politics, Social commentary on June 15, 2022 at 12:10 am

Facebook likes to promote itself as a place for “more than three billion people around the world to share ideas, offer support and make a difference.”

But there are limits to the ideas that can be shared on Facebook. And while Facebook likes to boast about its “Community Standards,” these are enforced in a totally arbitrary way.

There is simply no predicting what will trigger Facebook’s ire and land a post—and its poster—in “Facebook Jail.” 

50+ Funny Facebook Jail Memes to Avoid Being Blocked / Get Out of It

It’s true that standards against libel and harassment are absolutely essential.

Twitter has earned an unsavory reputation for refusing to take action against those guilty of one or both. As a result, the Disney company has refused to partner with this company.

But Facebook doesn’t restrict itself to banning posts that are libelous and/or harassing. Its definition of “Hate speech” is so all-encompassing it can be stretched to cover anything. 

For example: On June 3, I received the following message from Facebook: “You can’t post or comment for 7 days. This is because you previously posted something that didn’t follow our Community Standards.

“This comment goes against our standards on hate speech and inferiority, so only you and the admins of Private Liberal Group can see it.

“If your content goes against our Community Standards again, your account may be restricted or disabled.” 

Meta Platforms Headquarters Menlo Park California.jpg

Facebook / Meta headquarters in Menlo Park, California 

LPS.1, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

And just what was my comment that qualified as “hate speech”?

Facebook refused to publish the comment or news story to which I responded. So I can only assume that I was referring to yet another act of cowardice by Democrats in standing up to the Fascistic Right:

“Americans are historical illiterates, and this is just another example proving it. Tyrants cannot be appeased by giving into their demands–it just convinces them that they can demand even more from their victims. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain tried that approach at Munich in September, 1938, giving Adolf Hitler a big chunk of Czechoslovakia. The reason: To prevent a war with Nazi Germany. Less than a year later, war broke out anyway.”

Apparently, for Facebook, “Americans are historical illiterates” qualifies as “hate speech.”  

When Donald Trump boasted, during his 2016 campaign for President, “I love the poorly educated!” he was not alone. The leadership of Facebook apparently feels the same way. 

Making a decision based on whim and secrecy, with no appeal possible—as Facebook routinely does—is the behavior of a star chamber.

In the past, I had sent letters to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, protesting Facebook’s star chamber approach to justice. Zuckerberg’s life features two accomplishments that dwarf all others:

  1. He’s worth $71.5 billion, courtesy of Facebook’s revenues; and
  2. In multiple appearances before Congress, he’s managed to unite Right-wing Republicans and Liberal Democrats—in their rage at his perceived arrogance and stonewalling.

I didn’t expect Zuckerberg to show the courtesy of a fair-minded CEO by replying to my letters—and I wasn’t disappointed.

Mark Zuckerberg F8 2019 Keynote (32830578717) (cropped).jpg

Mark Zuckerberg

Anthony Quintano from Westminster, United States, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

So, this time, on June 3, I decided to write someone else: Sheryl Sandberg, longtime Chief Operating Officer for Facebook. (She will be stepping down from that position in the fall of 2022, She will, however, remain a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)

Early on in my letter I quickly laid out my case:  Apparently what aroused the ire of Facebook’s Censorship Committee was my statement that “Americans are historical illiterates,” and this was interpreted as “hate speech and inferiority.” Taken to its logical conclusion, only comments celebrating the ignorance of ignorant people will be considered acceptable on Facebook.

Facebook Jail Memes - Geeks + Gamers

Then I offered three reasons why I strongly objected to the decision to ban my post—and me—from Facebook:

First: What I said about Americans’ historical illiteracy was entirely accurate. No less an authority than the acclaimed historian David McCullough has said: “I think we are raising a generation of young Americans who are, to a very large degree, historically illiterate.” 

Nor is he alone. A May 5, 2015 article by the Smithsonian Institute asks: “How Much U.S. History Do Americans Actually Know?” And it answers the question: “Less Than You Think.”

Comedians have long gained laughs at Americans’ historical illiteracy. When Jay Leno hosted The Tonight Show, he often did “Jaywalking Tours” where he would ask people about seemingly well-known historical events. It was common to see people say the Civil War happened in the 1940s (instead of 1861-1865) or to believe that the Texans won at the battle of the Alamo. 

Second:  I quoted the rest of my paragraph: “Tyrants cannot be appeased by giving into their demands–it just convinces them that they can demand even more from their victims. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain tried that approach at Munich in September, 1938, giving Adolf Hitler a big chunk of Czechoslovakia. The reason: To prevent a war with Nazi Germany. Less than a year later, war broke out anyway.”

I challenge you—and anyone else who reads this letter—to refute one line of that paragraph.

YOUTH IS OUT! ALL HAIL THE GERONTOCRACY!

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on September 25, 2019 at 1:03 am

“Many Founding Fathers Were Shockingly Young When the Declaration of Independence Was Signed in 1776.”  

So read the headline of a July 5, 2014 story in Business Insider. 

On July 4, 1776, representatives of the original Thirteen Colonies met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to affix their signatures to Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. 

Signing of the Declaration of Independence

Below is a list of the ages of key American Revolutionary figures on July 4, 1776.

  • Marquis de Lafayette, 18
  • James Monroe, 18
  • Henry Lee III, 20
  • Aaron Burr, 20
  • John Marshall, 20
  • Nathan Hale, 21
  • Alexander Hamilton, 21
  • George Rodgers Clark, 23
  • James Madison, 25
  • Thomas Lynch, Jr., 26
  • Edward Rutledge, 26
  • John Paul Jones, 28
  • John Jay, 30
  • Abigail Adams, 31
  • Anthony Wayne, 31
  • Thomas Jefferson, 33
  • James Wilson, 34
  • Benedict Arnold, 35
  • Samuel Chase, 35
  • William Paca, 35
  • Ethan Allen, 38
  • John Hancock, 39
  • Daniel Morgan, 39
  • Thomas Paine, 39
  • Patrick Henry, 40
  • John Adams, 41
  • Paul Revere, 41
  • Richard Henry Lee, 44
  • George Washington, 44
  • Martha Washington, 45
  • Josiah Bartlett, 46
  • Caesar Rodney, 47
  • Lyman Hall, 52
  • Samuel Adams, 53
  • Roger Sherman, 55
  • Philip Livingston, 60
  • Stephen Hopkins, 69
  • Benjamin Franklin, 70

Youth was a commonplace among the signers of the Declaration.

In the hit play (and later movie) 1776, several members of Congress—including Thomas Jefferson—are surprised to learn that John Adams—who’s 41—“burns” for his wife Abigail, who’s waiting for him in Boston, Massachusetts.

1776-musical.jpg

Today, a nation that once prized youth among its leaders is now moving toward government by gerontocracy.

The average age of members of the House of Representatives is 57.8 years. In the Senate, it’s 61.8—among the oldest in U.S. history.

With the 2020 Presidential contest now in full swing, the advanced age of most of the candidates has become a central concern for millions of Americans.

On Election Day, 2020, the following Democratic contenders will be: 

  • Vermont United States Senator Bernie Sanders: 79
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden: 77
  • Massachusetts United States Senator Elizabeth Warren: 71
  • Minnesota United States Senator Amy Klobuchar: 60
  • California United States Senator Kamala Harris: 56
  • New York United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: 53
  • New Jersey United States Senator Cory Booker: 51
  • Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke: 48
  • Former mayor and HUD Secretary Julian Castro: 46
  • Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard: 39
  • South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg: 38 

Of these candidates, the oldest ones—Sanders, Warren and Biden—are most likely to win the Democratic nomination. 

Image result for elderly men walking

Opposing them will be President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election. On Election Day, he will be 74. 

To get an idea of where the United States is heading, let’s revisit the Soviet Union in the twilight of its 74-year existence.

In May 1982, 75-year-old General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, suffered a severe stroke. He had ruled the U.S.S.R. since 1964, but by the early 1980s he was essentially a figurehead. On November 10, 1982, he finally died of a heart attack.

Related image

The Kremlin

Succeeding Brezhnev was Yuri Andropov, 69, who until May had been chief of the KGB. 

Andropov suffered from kidney failure and was often on dialysis. By December, 1983, after barely more than a year in office, he  was totally bedridden. On February 9, 1984, he joined Brezhnev at the great Party Congress in the sky. 

Andropov had realized that the Soviet Union needed a younger and more energetic ruler. Not long before he died he suggested that Mikhail Gorbachev, his aide, succeed him.

But the Central Committee instead chose Konstantin Chernenko, who, at 72, was older than Andropov. On February 13, 1984, he became the U.S.S.R.’s third leader in a year and a half. 

Suffering from emphysema, occasional heart failure and liver disease from alcohol, Chernenko died on March 10, 1985.

Only then did the Kremlin rulers decide to choose a General Secretary who was likely to live more than one or two years. One day after Chernenko died, the Politburo chose Gorbachev, a relatively young 54.

Gorbachev survived to retire as President of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991.

So what does this mean for old men and women seeking the White House?

According to Dr. Michael Roizen, presidents effectively age twice as fast while in office. Roizen, a chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic and co-founder of RealAge.com, bases his opinion on his research of medical records of previous presidents, back to Theodore Roosevelt.

“The main cause is what we call unrequited stress– they don’t have enough friends to mitigate the stress. The major way most of us handle stress is through a number of techniques, but the most prominent way is to discuss it with friends.  

“The problem with presidents is, some of them lose friends, and the closest friend they have is usually the spouse.”

Thus, a person who has been president eight years has the risk of disability or dying of someone who is 16 years older.  When you’re already in your late 60s or early 70s, that doesn’t give you much room for risk-taking. 

Of course, given America’s Politically Correct social norms, pointing out the disadvantages of combing extreme age with extreme pressure is taboo for many persons. 

Julian Castro found this out when, in a recent debate, he questioned Joe Biden’s mental acuity. 

“In a cultural way, it shocked me,” said Gerson Borrero, a New York City political commentator. “We respect our elders—there may be a point where we smile at their ‘disparates’ (gaffes), but at the same time we stay respectful.”

That does not, however, make such truths magically disappear.

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