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FACEBOOK VS. THE FIRST AMENDMENT, PRIVACY AND FREE ELECTIONS: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Politics, Social commentary on August 17, 2022 at 12:10 am

As it now operates, Facebook poses a direct threat to the First Amendment, the privacy of its users and democratic elections.

Facebook is the world’s largest social media company, with 2.936 billion users by April, 2022. Its social and political influence on the United States is enormous. According to its profile on Wikipedia:

“The subject of numerous controversies, Facebook has often been criticized over issues such as user privacy (as with the Cambridge Analytica data scandal), political manipulation (as with the 2016 U.S. elections) and mass surveillance.

“Posts originating from the Facebook page of Breitbart News, a media organization previously affiliated with Cambridge Analytica, are currently among the most widely shared political content on Facebook.

“Facebook has also been subject to criticism over psychological effects such as addiction and low self-esteem, and various controversies over content such as fake news, conspiracy theories, copyright infringement, and hate speech. Commentators have accused Facebook of willingly facilitating the spread of such content as well as exaggerating its number of users to appeal to advertisers.” 

To which can be added the following:

  • I was sentenced to “Facebook Jail” for two posts. The first of these stated: “Americans are historical illiterates.” This was labeled “hate speech and inferiority.” The fact that the distinguished historian David McCullough had said exactly the same meant nothing to Facebook.
  • Comedians have long gained laughs at Americans’ historical illiteracy: When Jay Leno hosted The Tonight Show, he often did “Jaywalking Tours” where he asked 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.
  • A second post deleted showed a group of heavily-armed Proud Boys standing around a cross.  Above this I had posted the caption: “Proud Boys posing with their latest victim.” This was labeled as “hate speech.” 
  • Since this post was bluntly critical of the Proud Boys, the question emerges: Does criticizing the Proud Boys—Fascists who played a major role during the January 6 attempted coup against the Capitol Building—constitute “hate speech”?   

Proud Boys 

Anthony Crider, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

  • I am currently banned from Facebook for posting the following: A Facebook member had posted this solution for achieving universal peace: All enlisted members of all the world’s militaries should refuse to serve. In 2002-3, I had watched President George W. Bush lie the country into a needless, bloody, budget-busting war in Iraq. Thus, I felt the poster’s “solution” required a serious dose of realism. 
  • So I posted a meme below it that contained an image of Herman Goring—chief of the German Luftwaffe (air force) during World War II. As a convicted war criminal, he should, I felt, have insight into how easy it is to lead a nation into war. And he did: “Naturally, the common people don’t want war, neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in every country.”
  • No sooner had I posted this than I found myself once again accused of violating Facebook’s “Community Standards.” As in past cases, Facebook did not deign to state, specifically, what standards I had violated, or how the post endangered other Facebook members. I simply found myself blocked from Facebook.

25+ Best Hermann Goering Memes | Goering Memes, His Memes, Are Memes

  • Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, disclosed tens of thousands of Facebook’s internal documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Wall Street Journal in 2021. She testified before Congress that Facebook promotes conflict to increase its readership and keep them reading—and buying. So the comment I made fell exactly into that category of exciting controversy. 

People who libel and/or harass others should be banned from social media. It’s precisely because Twitter refuses to do so that its reputation is fatally tainted.

But posting a comment that is based on accurate history should not qualify as hate speech. And none of the examples I have cited fit that definition.

Through its worldwide membership, Facebook exerts an influence that rivals—if not exceeds—that of most government institutions. Its greatest infamy: Allowing Russian trolls to play a lethal role in electing Donald Trump President in 2016. And no doubt they are preparing to do so again in 2024. 

In a highly polarized political environment, Mark Zuckerberg holds the unique distinction of having infuriated both Democrats and Republicans during his appearances before Congress. His secret: The overweening arrogance he routinely displays to those he considers lesser mortals. His motto is: ““Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.”

It’s long past time for those at the legislative level to show him that some things—such as the First Amendment, the right to privacy and elections free of foreign influence—should not be broken.  And that there is a high price to pay for those who do.

FACEBOOK VS. THE FIRST AMENDMENT, PRIVACY AND FREE ELECTIONS: PART ONE (OF TWO)

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

There is an urgent need for states—and especially the Federal government—to impose serious regulatory controls on Facebook.

Facebook is the world’s largest social media company, with 2.936 billion users by April, 2022. Its social and political influence on the United States is enormous. According to its profile on Wikipedia:

“The subject of numerous controversies, Facebook has often been criticized over issues such as user privacy (as with the Cambridge Analytica data scandal), political manipulation (as with the 2016 U.S. elections) and mass surveillance.

“Posts originating from the Facebook page of Breitbart News, a media organization previously affiliated with Cambridge Analytica, are currently among the most widely shared political content on Facebook.

“Facebook has also been subject to criticism over psychological effects such as addiction and low self-esteem, and various controversies over content such as fake news, conspiracy theories, copyright infringement, and hate speech. Commentators have accused Facebook of willingly facilitating the spread of such content as well as exaggerating its number of users to appeal to advertisers.”

Meta Platforms Headquarters Menlo Park California.jpg

Facebook / Meta headquarters in Menlo Park, California 

LPS.1, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

To which should be added the following:

  • Facebook operates as virtually a law unto itself, arbitrarily deciding which posts violate its “Community Standards” and deleting them (and their posters) without warning and right to appeal.
  • No details are ever given as to what about the post, specifically, posed a threat to other Facebook members.
  • Facebook claims that its users have the right to appeal: “You can disagree with the decision if you think we got it wrong.”
  • But then Facebook declares: “We usually offer the chance to request a review and follow up if we got the decision wrong. We have fewer reviewers available right now because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. We’re trying hard to priorities 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,” there is a moral obligation—if not a legal one—to give them a chance to share their side of the story.
  • Facebook revenues have made its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, worth $71.5 billion. But Facebook refuses to provide its users with an 800 number so they can appeal directly to the Censorship Committee and share their reasons for posting the comments they did.   

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

  • Nor does Facebook provide even an Instant Messaging capability, so members can do so. 
  • Facebook’s refusal to provide a contact number for its members exposes them to potential fraud. National Public Radio published a January 31, 2017 article on “Searching for ‘Facebook Customer Service’ Can Lead To a Scam.”
  • “According to Google data: “‘Facebook customer service’ gets searched, on average, about 27,000 times a month in the U.S.” Yet on its own “Help Community” page, Facebook admits: “Facebook doesn’t offer a phone number for support.” 
  • Nor do Facebook’s executives deign to respond to letters sent to them. I have sent letters to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and to Sheryl Sandberg, a member of its board of directors. Neither had the courtesy to reply.
  • Many of those I know on Facebook have been censored for posts that criticize Donald Trump. Apparently, “freedom of expression” exists only for those who support a man who staged an illegal coup to overturn a totally legitimate election.
  • Members can be banned from Facebook for posting entirely legitimate news stories. One such story described how Texas Congressman Joe Burton had sent a series of smarmy emails to numerous women—while posing as a paragon of “family values.”
  • The post was removed and its poster was sent the following message: “We removed content you posted. We removed this content because it doesn’t follow the Facebook Community Standards.” Then the member who posted it found himself blocked from Facebook.

facebook -community-standards-thou-shalt-not-have-personal-opinions-thou-50500808-1.png

  • One Facebook member posted an innocuous anti-Trump cartoon: A group of children are lined up at a house on Halloween. A woman at the door says: “Oh, look. We have a pirate, a witch and a Trump supporter [a boy wearing a white sheet as a ghost].” The post was removed and the poster blocked from Facebook:
  • Many Facebook users have found themselves punished after Facebook’s star chamber censors found a post they didn’t like from four years earlier.
  • Facebook’s arbitrary and punitive actions are so notorious they have become grist for countless memes—some of which are hilarious: “Warning: You have violated a rule we haven’t  made up yet. Because you’re a known troublemaker you’ve been banned for 30 days. Thank you for using Facebook, have a nice day.”

Our Favourite Banned Facebook Memes - The Inappropriate Gift Co

  • I was sentenced to “Facebook Jail” for two posts. The first of these stated: “Americans are historical illiterates.” This was labeled “hate speech and inferiority.” The fact that the distinguished historian David McCullough had said exactly the same meant nothing to Facebook.
  • Taken to its logical conclusion, only comments celebrating the ignorance of ignorant people will be considered acceptable on Facebook.

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.

WASHED IN THE BLOOD OF THE VIRUS

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on April 17, 2020 at 12:56 am

Coronavirus is ravaging the country.

But in Ohio, churches are exempted from the statewide stay-at home order that bans mass gatherings during the pandemic. Even worse, some churchgoers are defiantly continuing to attend services—and even claiming they are immune from the disease. 

A CNN reporter asked members of the Solid Red Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio, why they risked infection for themselves and non-members in the community.

“I wouldn’t be anywhere else,” a woman said.

“Aren’t you concerned you can infect other people if you get sick inside?” CNN’s Gary Tuchman asked.

“No,” the woman responded. “I’m covered in Jesus’ blood. I’m covered in Jesus’ blood.

“I go to the grocery store every day!  I’m in Walmart, Home Depot. Look at those people. They could get me sick! But they’re not because I’m covered in his blood.”  Then she drove off.

Yet Ohio is not the only state whose citizens have defiantly put their own lives—and those of others—at risk.

Jack Roberts, a 76-year-old preacher at Maryville Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, told the Courier Journal that he would rather face a fine than close his doors. 

“I don’t want to battle with anybody,” he said. “What I’d like to do is just preach the gospel, and that’s become more difficult as time’s gone on. And it’s truthfully what I plan on doing.”

Some officials, however, are not turning a blind eye to irresponsible behavior—even if it is committed by church pastors.

In early April, Rodney Howard-Browne, the head pastor at Florida’s The River Tampa Bay Church, was arrested for holding services during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister charged him with demonstrating a “reckless disregard for human life” after he held Sunday services in violation of county orders calling for social distancing. Soon after that, the megachurch lost its insurance when the insurance carrier canceled it.

So what’s going on here?

First, despite the claim of the Solid Red Rock worshiper that she was “washed in Jesus’ blood”: Crucifixion is an extremely painful way to die—but hardly a bloody one. Nails are driven into the wrists and ankles of the condemned, and s/he is left to die of slow suffocation.

Second, it’s hard to find traces of blood in a man who died more than 2,000 years ago—and whose body can’t be recovered.

Third, for all the reverence Americans have for the Christian religion, few of them dare to examine these two fundamental truths about the Bible:

  1. Its stories cannot be independently proven, and
  2. Many of its stories violate the most fundamental notions of common sense.

Consider these examples:

  • Adam and Eve meet a talking snake. (Presumably it spoke Hebrew. When was the last time a zoologist had a serious discussion with a serpent?)
  • Noah saves the world’s wildlife by stuffing them into an ark. (Sure—untrained wild animals are going to meekly walk, two-by-two, into a huge building. Then they’re going to let themselves be caged. And Noah and his family must store a huge variety of food for each type of animal for an indefinite period of time. And the sheer stench of all that animal urine and feces would have been horrific.)
  • Moses parts the Red Sea. (Some scholars believe “Red” has been mistranslated from “Reed,” which is like upgrading “the White Quail” in Moby Dick to “the White Whale.”)

Image result for Images of Moses parting the Red Sea

Moses (played by Charlton Hestono) parts the Red Sea

  • Lot’s wife becomes a pillar of salt. (A human being can be turned into ashes, but not salt.)
  • Samson kills 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. (Even Arnold Schwarzenegger at the height of his physical strength couldn’t kill so many men—except with a machinegun.)
  • Daniel is thrown into a pit of lions—but survives because an angel closes their jaws. (This sounds inspiring—until you remember that didn’t happen when Christians were thrown to the lions by the Romans.)
  • The will of God violates physical laws. (Jesus turns water into wine and raises Lazarus from the dead; Jonah lives inside a fish for three days; Noah dies at 950 years.)
  • Jesus rises from the dead. (There have been near-death experiences, but there has never been a documented case of someone being certified as dead who came alive again.)
  • Jesus will return more than 2,000 years after he died to wipe all evil from the earth and usher in a paradise for his faithful followers. (There has never been a case in recorded history of anyone returning from the dead decades or hundreds of years later—let alone more than 2,000 years later.)

“The Transfiguration of Jesus” as painted by Carl Bloch

Americans live in an age of rockets and computers. Yet millions of fundamentalist Christians (and Jews and Muslims) continue to believe stories written when men believed the Earth was flat and the sun revolved around it.

The Constitution guarantees “freedom of worship.” But it does not guarantee freedom to irresponsibly put the lives of others at risk. 

At least some states are prepared to stand fast for public safety against social irresponsibility.

RELIGION AS MUZAK

In Entertainment, History, Social commentary on February 26, 2020 at 12:11 am

According to Wikipedia: “Christianity is the most adhered to religion in the United States, with 65% of polled American adults identifying themselves as Christian in 2019.”

The United States has the largest Christian population in the world, with approximately 167 million Christian adults.

And Christianity continues to play a major role in American politics.

On August 9, 2017, The Guardian ran a story entitled: “In God We Trust: Why Americans Won’t Vote In An Atheist President.”

And it opened: “What do Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg have in common? They all profess to be religious. As a new study shows, people think the worst of non-believers. What does this mean for US voters?”

The study, conducted by the University of Kentucky, found that throughout the world, people distrust atheists. To them, those without faith are more capable of immorality than religious people. In fact, American voters are less willing to elect an atheist than any other category of candidate, including gay or Muslim.

In 2016, allies of Hillary Clinton considered painting her rival, Vermont United States Senator Bernie Sanders, as an atheist. They believed it could cost him votes in evangelically-populated states such as Kentucky and West Virginia.

Sanders, who is Jewish, rushed to deny he was an atheist.

And nearly every President has regularly attended the National Prayer Breakfast. This is a yearly event held in Washington, D.C., usually on the first Thursday in February. President Dwight D. Eisenhower began the tradition in 1953. 

And yet for all the reverence Americans have for the Christian religion, few of them dare to examine these two fundamental truths about the Bible:

  1. Its stories cannot be independently proven, and
  2. Many of its stories violate the most fundamental notions of common sense.

Consider these examples:

  • God creates Adam from dust. (This absolutely contradicts everything we know about how men and women reproduce. Would-be parents don’t throw dust into the air and see it instantly turn into newborn babies.)  

God creates Adam–as painted by Michelangelo

  • Adam and Eve meet a talking snake. (Presumably it spoke Hebrew. When was the last time a zoologist had a serious discussion with a serpent?)
  • Noah saves the world’s wildlife by stuffing them into an ark. (Sure—untrained wild animals are going to meekly walk, two-by-two, into a huge building. Then they’re going to let themselves be caged. And Noah and his family must store a huge variety of food for each type of animal for an indefinite period of time. And the sheer stench of all that animal urine and feces would have been horrific.)
  • Moses parts the Red Sea. (Some scholars believe “Red” has been mistranslated from “Reed,” which is like upgrading “the White Quail” in Moby Dick to “the White Whale.”)

Image result for Images of Moses parting the Red Sea

Moses (played by Charlton Hestono) parts the Red Sea

  • Lot’s wife becomes a pillar of salt. (A human being can be turned into ashes, but not salt.)
  • Samson kills 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. (Even Arnold Schwarzenegger at the height of his physical strength couldn’t kill so many men—except with a machinegun.)
  • Daniel is thrown into a pit of lions—but survives because an angel closes their jaws. (This sounds inspiring—until you remember that didn’t happen when Christians were thrown to the lions by the Romans.)
  • The will of God violates physical laws. (Jesus turns water into wine and raises Lazarus from the dead; Jonah lives inside a fish for three days; Noah dies at 950 years.)
  • Jesus rises from the dead. (There have been near-death experiences, but there has never been a documented case of someone being certified as dead who came alive again.)
  • Jesus will return more than 2,000 years after he died to wipe all evil from the earth and usher in a paradise for his faithful followers. (There has never been a case in recorded history of anyone returning from the dead decades or hundreds of years later—let alone more than 2,000 years later.)

“The Transfiguration of Jesus” as painted by Carl Bloch

So why do millions of people unquestioningly accept so many stories that totally contradict the most basic truths of common sense?

Like Muzak, these stories—and other Biblical tales—have been absorbed over time through several mediums:

  • Countless parents have told them to their children.
  • So have countless pastors and priests.
  • From the 1940s to the 1960s, audiences reveled in such spectaculars as “Samson and Delilah,” “The Ten Commandments” and “King of Kings.” When people watch Biblical movies, they believe they’re seeing The Truth as it’s laid out in the Bible.
  • The gospel music scene has produced mega-hits like: “Shall We Gather at the River?” “Take Me to the King,” “Down By the Riverside.”

It is not necessary to actually be religious to run for and win public office in the United States. But it is essential to claim to be. Donald Trump—totally lacking in humility and spirituality—became the darling of evangelicals in 2016.

As Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in The Prince:For men in general judge more by the eyes than by the hands, for every one can see, but very few have to feel. Everyone sees what you appear to be, few feel what you are, and those few will not dare to oppose themselves to the many.”

FACEBOOK, WE’RE GLAD TO LEAVE YE: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on June 8, 2018 at 12:10 am

And, on Facebook, the complaints just keep coming. [NOTE: The spellings are those of the complainants.]

  • FACEBOOK BETRAYED EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US ON HERE. SO MUCH SO THAT NOW WE HAVE AN IDIOT IN THE WHITE HOUSE AND IT’S YOUR FAULT YOU PUT HIM THERE. HOW DARE YOU TAKE 87 MILLION PEOPLE’S DATA, GIVE IT TO CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICS, WHO GAVE IT TO RUSSIA, WHO GAVE IT TO MANAFORT, WHICH MADE HILLARY LOSE AND TRUMP WIN. I HOPE THEY KICK YOUR ASS IN CONGRESS.
  • FACEBOOK STINKS. Despite being repeatedly told that your website is hacked all the time, you do nothing. Today, my girlfriend received a completely naked photo from a stranger, reported it, and you deemed it fine. This is not fine. It’s disgusting. You are a lousy, immoral company with no security or protection for your users. You STINK!You should have a minus ten, not one star.
  • total waste of time. I hate the way no can help you get access to your account but they will block the old account without contacting you.
  • FB News Feed now shows only posts from the same few people, about 25, and repeat the same, because Facebook has a new algorithm. Their system chooses the people to read one’s posts. However, I would like to choose for myself.
  • My husband’s account was hackef and he’s tried everything to get back into it and Absolutely NO HELP from Facebook to resolve this!! It has ALL of his family and friends blocked from his page including me!!

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  • FB Gestapo must be pushing fake news and stories.Every time I drop a link showing the claims are fake as a TV Preacher,FB notifies me my post has been marked as spam and they remove it.
  • I have tried to contact FB about missing fundraiser donations and cannot get a reply.
  • Tried to contact Facebook about something on one of the group sites and they never answered my complaint, now they have blocked the like button because I have pushed it too many times and now have put one of my comments to the spam. If they do not respond to my 2nd complaint, I will Be closing my Facebook account.
  • SICK OF ADVERTISMENTS FROM FACEBOOK IN MY NEWS FEED IM NOT FUKIN INTERESTED
  • I got blocked from posting videos and facebook live because I posted a video of me singing with the music video plating in the background… I would like to know why this happened…
  • TAKE ME OFF THE BEING BANNED LIST OF POSTING I AM NOT A FREAKING TERROIST
  • Reported a dozen times, and left phone msgs regarding a convicted Pedophile, child molester, registered on Megan’s Law website. Facebook will not do anything about it
  • YOU CANT GET ANYONE TO ANSWER I AM SO FRUSTRATED I GIVE UP ITS TERRIBLE

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  • Brian Haner has been reported for being offensive. He was informed this is his second strike. He has 70000 followers and people have the right to UNLIKE if they are offended. No one has the right to get someone BANNED for expressing an “offensive” opinion. If Brian is banned because some uppity person can conplain and have their ONE opinion outweight the other 69999 opinions then I for one will leave to google+ and I will take as many people as I can with me.
  • Complained about the marketing for Kary Oberbrummer self publishing book scheme that refuses to give you the costs up front. Facebook deleted all my comments and refuses to let me make anymore comments on the post. Just trying to warn people about the downside risk. Facebook censorship ! UNBELIEVABLE !
  • My Facebook page or rather account got all screwed up. It started logging me in on my original very first Facebook account, how in the world do I delete it? I have pushed deactivate until my face is blood red and I am extremely sick because after I push deactivate then it says your session with Facebook has ran out please login again and then of course it logs me back into the old account! I would appreciate it so very much if someone would please give me an answer that works.
  • They will not answer as to why I can not post anything for sale
  • Can’t seem to find a way to contact Facebook. Probably the way they want it. I’m getting very obnoxious friends requests that I would like to stop but don;t see a way to do it. Not likely to hang around much longer but then I don’t think they care.

The 1970 epic, “Patton,” closed with the words: “All glory is fleeting.” Mark Zuckerberg and his self-satisfied honchos at Facebook should realize that social networking websites can also be fleeting.

Anyone who doubts this need only sum up a few once well-known names:

  • Myspace
  • Google+
  • Friendster
  • Posterous
  • Yahoo Meme
  • SixDegrees
  • Classmates
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • Eons
  • iTunes Ping

Mark Zuckerberg needs to quickly install some serious reforms in Facebook. Otherwise, in time, his name will be added to those CEOs of other failed social networking sites.

FACEBOOK, WE’RE GLAD TO LEAVE YE: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on June 7, 2018 at 12:18 am

Facebook is still the most-used social media platform in the world—with more than 2 billion users and a net worth of $500 billion.

But all is not well in Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet kingdom. And while he has chosen to ignore those evils plaguing Facebook, many of its users are infuriated by them.

So infuriated that many of them are threatening to move to other social media sites—such as Snapchat and Instagram.

Here is a sampling of complaints made directly to Facebook by its thoroughly enraged users. [NOTE: The spellings are those of the complainants.]

  • Stop soliciting me for boosts and adds. It is annoying spam, the kind you encourage people to block. But, of course, we can’t block it since it’s you. Trust me, if I was ever inclined in the least to give you additiobnal money for anything, you effectively killed that urge thousands of unwelcome posts and reminders ago. You make Instagram look better every day.
  • Same exact thing I went threw. 25 times they pulled my ad and 25 times I appealed it, not one time did I get a response. My ad was for dog training they said it didn’t meet Facebook policy because of animal sales, but in all 25 appeals, I explained, I’m not selling animals I’m selling a service. And I was even paying my own money to run the same ad on boost promo. They approved my ad for that and took my money, but can’t get my ad to run on a free market place.
  • I keep getting my post that I am selling fabric rejected and it won’t let me appeal it because there are no posts listed.. Says I violated a commerce policy. What does fabric violate? I got a message from FB today and all it shows it was closed. NO EXPLANATION
  • Hello, How do i reply to a message from you I have just had about a picture that I originally got off Facebook that is apparently now not allowed. I can’t delete it and if I try to answer it just buffers and is never sent.
  • I voiced my opinion on gaffneynites and just because the republicans can say what they want I was taken off that group, they said nothing to the people who were harassing me, and they could say what they wanted, I don’t think facebook is fair when it lets one side say whatever they want to and you can’t, this is discrimination in my opinion, I thought this was suppose to be America free speech

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  • Facebook must get their act together, People do have an opinion, and if you get in so called “facebook jail” for having that opinion, what is the point of having a social media site???? Come on Facebook, get with the 21st century..
  • I’m just trying to ask a question to a human and actually get a response. Not a list of 6 possible answers and asking if any of them were close enough to shut you up.
  • No way to contact Facebook – times outs, no connection, all sort of excuses when you are posting a claim, or a request for contact!!Facebook is charging me for something I didn’t authorized to run, an add. Many months ago I stopped running all adds I had posted – mainly because of the difficulty (impossibility?) of reaching you managers, or whomever is responsible for billings!!! YOU JUST HIDE YOUR SELVES, AND AFTER STARTING AN ADD, one has no way of stopping it, changing it, no feed back at all!! I will never post a add on Facebook again!!
  • Tried to contact fb to try and stop all these “friends requests” from all foreign people. Could not do, after all this bad publicity you would think they would be very wary.
  • I just tried to contact Facebook concerning my account with a number provided on the Website. The service representative was very helpful until I turned down the $49.00 fee to fix my problem. When I said that was not acceptable, he hung up on me ….

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  • Contacting them is impossible. They want you gone, and you are gone. No explanation, and I have never giving them these five stars;; they made that up.
  • it is very hard to find this contact method. it is totally impersonal. it allows for no dialogue. it seems to confirm that FB is too big for its own britches.
  • is there a way to contact facebook as getting a little peeved with the service and will not pay for any more ads while i am unable to contact them.
  • Never have a direct Help Desk to call…it appears as if You all are invisible.
  • you cannot contact facebook to report a fault! what good is that?
  • I CALLED 2 TIMES AND THEY WANT $100 SAY IT IS MY COMPUTER AND IT ISNT……..I Cant share and in jail almost 24/7. i was to be out at 12;20 yesterday…last time they did this and they restriction is over but still 3 more days!!!! idiots work here!!!!! never reply back either.
  • this is terrible, i have to use someone else account to even contact support.

FACEBOOK, WE’RE GLAD TO LEAVE YE: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on June 6, 2018 at 12:29 am

Facebook is in big trouble. And much of it stems from its own greed and arrogance toward its customers.

An email recently sent to Winnie Liu, director of Facebook & Instagram Research, offers several telling truths.

The recipient—a friend of mine named Dan—had just been put in “Facebook Jail” for somehow offending its “Community Standards” (i.e., censorship) department.

The actual offense, of course, was not outlined.  It never is.

When he tried to post something on Facebook, Dan got an automatic message: “You may have used Facebook in a way that our systems consider unusual, even if you didn’t mean to. You can post again in 24 hours.”

Notice the phrase: “You may have used Facebook in a way that our systems consider unusual.”

Well, did he or didn’t he commit an offense?  If he didn’t, he shouldn’t have been banned from posting on Facebook. If he did, then he should have the right to know, specifically, what it was he posted that “may have” been considered “unusual”.

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And what it is that “our systems consider unusual”? Did he defame someone? Post an obscene photo? Tell a joke that someone found offensive?

America’s criminal and civil justice systems are founded on specificity. If the police accuse you of robbing a bank, they need to have specific proof that you robbed it. Their merely saying “I think he’s a bank robber” isn’t evidence—and shouldn’t be counted as such.

Finally, if he “didn’t mean to” post something that Facebook’s “systems consider unusual,” then that should be a mitigating factor in itself.

Even in criminal law, room is made to distinguish intentional acts from unintentional ones, even when harm is caused.

So when Dan got an email from Facebook, inviting him to take part in an upcoming research survey, he decided to share his disgust with its blatant disregard for fairness:

  • “Although Facebook users like me have made its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, worth $52 billion, he’s unwilling to make it possible for those users to directly contact Facebook’s censorship department when they find themselves booted off Facebook. Or when they can’t log onto it. Or when they’re being billed for ads they never posted.
  • “Ideally, this should be done by phone. Certainly, with all the billions of advertising dollars Facebook rakes in, a comparatively small portion could be set aside to hire banks of phone operators to deal with situations like this.

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By aflcio2008 (NM: Jewell Hall, AFT and Martin Heinrich) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

  • “But if you’re not willing to do that, you could at least make it possible for frustrated users to contact Facebook via Instant Messaging.
  • “As it is, Facebook’s censorship department operates as prosecutor, jury and judge. Its decisions come out of the blue, and whoever is accused of violating your ‘Community Standards’ is automatically found guilty, with no right to appeal or even explain the situation as s/he saw it.
  • “These are the methods of a Star Chamber in a dictatorship. They are reprehensible to citizens of any free society. And Facebook should consider them equally reprehensible as affronts to free speech.
  • “There have been numerous reports that Facebook’s censorship department has been manipulated by Right-wing Trump supporters to remove posts they don’t like, even of those posts don’t actually violate Facebook’s “community standards.” I feel reasonably certain this is what happened in my case.
  • “Since Zuckerberg recently spent two days in Washington testifying before outraged Democrats, it isn’t in his—or Facebook’s—best interest that he be forced to account for such disgraceful manipulation.
  • “I have seen numerous complaints by Facebook members about being put in ‘Facebook Jail’ for even the most trivial ‘offenses.’ One of these is ‘liking’ too many posts.
  • “Others like myself have simply re-posted images or stories already posted on Facebook—and found themselves kicked off as a result.

“Last December I wrote Mark Zuckerman about these problems—and the dangers they represent for Facebook. Naturally, I didn’t receive even the courtesy of a reply. And it’s clear to me that he has no intention of making such reforms.

“So there’s really no point in your offering test respondents $75 apiece in Amazon gift cards. Since Facebook clearly refuses to address the issue that’s most outraging so many of its users—at least the ones I know—it can expect to see its audience continue to shrink.

“When I first got a computer in 1999, AOL was the ‘big dog on the block.’ No more. When a comedian now references AOL, it’s as a joke, to mock its now antiquated status.

“It’s unfortunate that some people—like those in charge of Facebook—stubbornly refuse to learn from history.”

Dan’s experience, however, is by no means rare. Nor is his high level of disgust with Facebook.

For some unknown reason, Facebook has chosen to publish many of its users’ opinions on their “Facebook experience.”

All that’s needed to access these opinions—which are almost entirely complaints—is to type “Contact Facebook” in the white subject bar in the upper left-hand corner of the page.

Parts Three and Four of this series will focus on those expressed views—and outrage.

FACEBOOK, WE’RE GLAD TO LEAVE YE: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Politics, Social commentary on June 5, 2018 at 12:09 am

Fortune has some bad news for Facebook: “Facebook is losing U.S. teenagers to services like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat.”

On May 31, The Pew Research Center released its survey of 743 teens and 1,058 parents with children ages 13 to 17. The subject: Which social networking sites are most popular with teenagers.

The survey found:

  • 85% of American teenagers say they use the video-streaming service YouTube.
  • 72% of teens use photo-sharing Instagram.
  • 69% of teens use Snapchat.
  • 51% of teens use Facebook, which came in fourth place.
  • This is a decline of 20% in usage; when Pew Research surveyed teenagers’ use of social networking sites in 2015, 71% of them said they used Facebook.

And worse news may be coming.

According to the research firm eMarketer, in 2018, Facebook will lose two million users under the age of 25. And less than half of Americans between 12 and 17 will use Facebook at least once a month.

Facebook New Logo (2015).svg

According to the website, Inc.com, a major reason lies in the increasing use of Facebook by adults: “What kid wants to hang out in the same place as their parents and grandparents?” On the other hand, Snapchat will gain 1.9 million new users and Instagram will add 1.6 million in the 24-and-under age range coveted by advertisers.

“In general terms we expect social network users under age 24 to show declining interest in Facebook as time goes on,” Karin von Abrams, principal analyst at eMarketer, told The Independent.

“Younger consumers in particular are looking for something beyond utility.

“They want novelty and exclusivity too; the search for the latest buzz in social media will continue to lead them away from Facebook.”

A headline in The Guardian put Facebook’s dilemma in the bluntest terms: “Is Facebook for old people? Over-55s flock as the young leave”.

In a March 12, 2018 story, Guardian reporter Mark Sweeney notes: 

“It’s official: Facebook is for old(er) people. Teens and young adults are ditching Mark Zuckerberg’s social network as popularity among the over-55s surges, according to a report.

“…A surge in older users means over-55s will become the second-biggest demographic of Facebook users this year.”

Facebook is by no means in danger yet. As of the first quarter of 2018, it had 2.19 billion monthly active users.

Its creator and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, at 33, is now worth more than $69 billion, according to Forbes. And Facebook’s market value is now $500 billion, although it’s been public for five years. It generates the vast majority of its money from mobile phones.

President Barack Obama speaking with Mark Zuckerberg (right)

But a desire by teens to avoid a social network used by their parents and grandparents isn’t the only reason for widespread dissatisfaction with Facebook.

To cite what should be the Bible among corporate CEOs: Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation From Stifling People and Strangling Profits, by Robert Townsend.

First published in 1970, its writing is brisk and its tone is no-nonsense. According to the dust jacket of the paperback edition:

“This is not a book about how organizations work. What should happen in organizations and what does happen are two different things and about as far apart as they can get.

“THIS BOOK IS ABOUT HOW TO GET THEM TO RUN THREE TIMES AS WELL AS THEY DO. The keys that will accomplish this are JUSTICE…FUN…EXCELLENCE.” 

One chapter in particular—“Call Yourself Up”—runs only a short paragraph. Yet it is a paragrah that Mark Zuckerberg should tape to his bathroom mirror and re-read every day:

“When you’re off on a business trip or a vacation, pretend you’re a customer. Telephone some part of your organization and ask for help. You’ll run into some real horror shows.”

If Zuckerberg were a Facebook customer, instead of its CEO, he would face “some real horror shows.”

A friend of mine named Dan recently had this experience on Facebook:

“On May 31, I was placed in what Facebook’s users commonly refer to as ‘Facebook Jail’ for 24 hours. My crime: Posting a commentary on the firing of Roseanne Barr for her racist tweet on May 29.

“Specifically: Another Facebook user had already posted a picture of a white woman using a cell phone to call police–and report that a black woman had just wiped out her favorite TV show. (This was clearly a reference to Channing Dungey, entertainment president of the American Broadcasting Company, who made the decision to dump Roseanne after Barr’s racist tweet.)

“Under that photo I had posted a picture of a Ku Klux Klan rally, with a caption to the effect: “Hey, ABC, you can’t fire Roseanne! She’s one of us!”

“Perhaps two hours later I was kicked off Facebook and sent a message that I had violated its “Community Standards.” The picture I had posted of the Klan rally was given, but not the caption I had posted with it.

“Anyone with half a brain should have realized that this was not an expression of support for the Klan but an attack on it—and on Barr for her Fascistic racism.”

Apparently, no one at Facebook had any understanding of irony. Nor could they tell the difference between a post attacking the racism of the Ku Klux Klan and celebrating it.

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