Members of the Occupy Movement believe that Facebook is deliberately censoring their posts, in what seems like an online parallel to the arrests of protesters in cities across the country.
One activist sent us an editorial about Occupy posts disappearing from Facebook, and before we get to the contents of this opinion piece, I’ll first share what I’d said in an email reply to this guest contributor.
I will probably run your post, but want to explain something to you: More often than not, the “censors” are actually other Facebook users.
“The customer is always right” philosophy is in full force at Facebook. It’s hard to believe this, but the majority of the site’s membership sympathize with Republicans. When any of them see things they don’t like, they can flag the content. But you can do this too. If you haven’t flagged anything posted by anti-Occupy types, now’s the time to get started.
When you see posts get pulled unfairly, you have the right to complain about it to Facebook. And if at first this doesn’t succeed, complain again. I have seen the site restore content and apologize for wrongful deletions — although admittedly this doesn’t happen enough.
My stance comes from seeing this phenomenon repeat itself, with people calling Facebook the censor when the actual censorship was a response to a member’s complaint.
In this particular example, most likely the same entities that are asking local law enforcement officials to evict Occupy protesters from various parcels of real estate are also flagging the activists’ posts on Facebook.
That said, below is a contribution from Paul Horton, who administers two pages on the social network (he co-administers the latter): The Creative Spectrum and Creative Subversion Enterprises. I haven’t edited his writing.
Facebook And The Social-Media-Activist: It’s Complicated But It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way
Facebook is playing an integral role in the Occupy Movement, but activists are being hampered by Facebook’s policies, regarding posting on Pages. In a statement made by Facebook, when their spam filter had a glitch and disabled a number of accounts of activists:
We want Facebook to be a place where people can openly express their views and opinions, even if others don’t agree with them.
A function of Facebook, is that of a cyber-soapbox, which has given rise to the Social Media Activist (SMA). Many use Facebook to network with others who support political & social issues. Some use just their personal profile to share information, while others create a public page (or group page) under the category of Cause (or Community). While commercial pages will have a web page as well (or a blog page), the SMA, will use Facebook as their web presence, and treat it as a blog page.
For the SMA, the sharing of information and other content, can be a passion and provide them with a sense of purpose, if they are getting positive feed-back on their posts. And Facebook, after all, is all about sharing, as their present mission is: Giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
The only problem is, Facebook doesn’t want you sharing too much, on other pages walls, which they define as: something that could be annoying by making spammy and irrelevant posts on Facebook pages. Which, is in line with the terms of agreement: It is a violation of the Facebook Terms to repeatedly send the same message or to make the same post as it may be construed as spam or harassment.
Facebook wants you to buy ads for commercial pages, but what about the grassroots SMA, just trying to share information and other relevant content? They have two options, invite friends, but a problem with many advocates/activists, is that they usually have a large number of friends (2,000 to5,000) and they get inundated with various notifications, so they may ignore many requests. The other, is to post their content as a link, to like-minded pages, hoping that the administrator might give it a like, and a share. Also people visiting the page’s wall, might see their post and give it a like and/or go to the SMA’s page and give it a like.
The problem arises though, when the SMA crosses the line Facebook deems as posting too quickly, on too many pages, which when it’s crossed, the SMA gets blocked for 15 days. In the past, I got a warning when I was trying to use Facebook to promote a project on Kickstarter, and I heeded the warning. However, I was recently using my cause page, to make posts and did not get any warning, and was given the 15 day suspension from not only using the cause page to post to other pages walls, but I can’t use my personal profile for that function as well (I can post on friends walls and in groups).
I was limiting my postings to relevant content, on pages that were relative to the content being posted. As far as I know, I wasn’t blocked by any administrators, many liked my postings and my page as well, and shared the links. I’d been getting an abundance of likes (and shares) not only on the content posted, but for the page as well. I don’t know if any administrators marked my posts as spam, but I did get a few snarky remarks from trolls, and it has been reported that some trolls will go around and mark relevant posts as spam.
I propose that Facebook modify their policy regarding making frequent posts to pages walls, for pages classified as a cause, community, media, public figure, and entertainment categories, and that an individual, or a page that is classified as a cause or community, can post as much as they want, and that it should be up to just the administrator(s) to police their page and block anyone they find annoying (don’t allow non-administrators to report a post as spam). The reason for including public figures and entertainment categories, is that they may support certain causes/issues. Facebook could still block or remove pages if the administrator is posting true spam for commercial purposes or posting harassing or irrelevant content and being reported by administrators.
The posting of content on other pages is the equivalency of putting up a poster or flyer. Some pages choose not to allow people or pages to post to their wall, but if they allow links, then that is an invitation to share on their wall and many pages will gladly share content they find relevant (and give you a compliment to boot).
So, how about Facebook, there may be a modern day, Thomas Paine out there who wants to enlighten and inspire the people, isn’t it time to change a policy that is stifling relevant content, that desperately wants to be shared?
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.