Joe Conger
Communications & PR strategist cyberjournalist

  • Facebook Jail-time

                           Picture that got my ex-wife banned from Facebook for awhile


    My ex-wife says she was censored by Facebook this week for posting the picture above. Obviously, the image is making a statement, and while the ex-spouse in me finds this to be her typical, low-brow humor (my ex can be a bit indecorous), the journalist in me cringes at the greater implications of the actions taken by Zuckerberg's social media platform. Facebook PUNISHED her: put her in "time out" until she re-educated herself on what is appropriate.

    I have teenagers in my house who don't know television but know Facebook. The platform has been growing exponentially since its inception in 2004, and just recently announced it had two billion users, planet-wide. It is estimated that those users scroll and comment throughout more than 60 percent of a 24-hour day. That's a huge chunk of the world's population and a huge chunk of time. It's no secret that every time you interact with Facebook, it learns a little more about you: your preferences, your likes and dislikes, favorite things, people... What bothersome is that it knows more about your fetishes than your own mother.

    And now, "Momma" Facebook is punishing you – so that you live up to her expectations and suppress your own beliefs. Anecdotal stories abound of groups and pages losing ground and followers because of positions they take on equality, gun control, or religion. Instead, you are encouraged to adopt Facebook's belief system. Trouble is, you and I don't know Mark Zuckerberg or his beliefs. His social platform doesn't exactly spell it out either. All we know about Facebook is that it makes billions of dollars on the backs of users who produce the content, provide their demographics and preferences, and refer friends to Momma Facebook, who then sells it to eager advertisers.

    Google has its issues, too. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) appears to be developing without a soul. It knows where I shop, what I buy, where I'm located on the planet, and offers suggestions to me on where I should go and spend my money nearby. Google can spew a wealth of knowledge, but ask the AI about Jesus and Google remains silent. Google speaks volumes about Allah, however. Is this just oversight? Am I being conspiratorial? With all their billions of dollars, can't these tech giants hire ethicists, moralists, and perhaps a few practicing Christians?

    Yes, the image is crass, and my ex apparently learned her lesson and posted on a black backdrop, "I'm out of Facebook jail!" She says Facebook's sentence consisted of not allowing her to comment or post for a week. She could continue to scroll around, of course, because Facebook didn't want her quitting the platform altogether (she's a target for marketing, after all). Now, she re-examines what she posts and shares because, quite frankly, she enjoys communicating with her friends and acquaintances through Facebook. It's quick and easy, and there are near-instantaneous rewards of iconic hearts, smiley faces, and whatnot that light up the posts and trigger the pleasure centers of the brain. And... little by little... Facebook edits and molds her -- and the rest us -- into its perfect citizens of the world.

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