Today, without warning, Facebook erased what had been a 14- year- long experiment in real time, direct contact with a vibrant readership. Immediately friends reached out--wanting to know if I'd blocked them or if something had gone down between us.
This morning I had 4961 friends on FB.
I'd created thousand of posts, shares, photos-- all content I choose, for whatever reason and posted to what is by all means, now, a public utility. The phone company, by law, can't interject themselves into our private discusions, our texts, or our phone videos but Facebook can and has. They have, via immunity from prosecution, interjected themselves into our private discussions. In my case, my FB was locked down to allow only friends to read, share or comment on what I post. It was, for all intense purposes, a private discussion.
Yet on a regular basis Facebook has become increasingly intrusive. Deploying ever dubious "fact checks", which-- as I have repeatedly pointed out-- do not age well, often inserting details never claimed, so that their small army of disinformation agents can then proclaim the post "false". Many of these FB teams have documented ties to communist China, a totalitarian regime exhibiting among the worst authoritarian controls humanity has yet to experience.
In other cases, "missing context" claims are inserted, again to insinuate dishonesty, skewed positions, or biased coverage. A sort of invisible official party line is enforced, and non transparent, vague, arbitrary "community guidelines" policing occurs with enforcement results that are the definition of subjective.
Nearly every fact check defammation FB has slapped on my posts has not aged well. Indeed just two daya ago Facebook had to publicly apologize for their August 2020 censorship and reinstate the post. This has happened many times.
But it isn't just censorship and the fascist impulses that now define these sort of reckless and defamatory judgments-- it is also the near monopolistic power Facebook wields and the public private partnerships that are reliant on the comparibilty they rely on with/via multiple platforms.
In rural America, Facebook is not just a speech forum. It is also how emergency management, community engagement, and first responders communicate. We often lose power. Only twice, in the last thirty years I've lived here, have we lost cell phones too, and thus smart phones--often enabled by apps that utilize Facebook is how we receive tornado warnings, wildfire updates, power outage notifications and a wide variety of other vital information communicated via Facebook.
Of course it is/was impossible to spread the word via 4961 people what happened to my Facebook pages today.
Facebook claimed to offer an appeals process, but it requires verification of identity via an sms code sent to my phone. Despite repeated attempts to comply and get a code, no such code was sent and I cannot request another code for 24 hours --in spite of my contact information being verified and up to date. Just yesterday Facebook notified me if suspicious behavior and required input of new passwords.
I can't imagine how people who only have a landline are to comply with this process.
So what is Facebook really doing here?
They are forcing uniform speech, quashing dissenting opinions and they have, in fact become not only publishers, but editorial gatekeepers, in essence not just regulating public speech but also consensual private communication. This is in violation of the carve outs and exemptions FB recieved from congress at the dawn of the Internet.
For the record, I have not been in Facebook jail in recent memory. I have no idea what post triggered such an invasive response, one that "disappeared me" witbout warning.
I am a long time writer in not only the LGBTQ community but also rural, trucking, and HIV AIDS communities. I have witnessed much history first hand and can back up my claims with long ago published writing that cannot be scrubbed as easily as FB just did.
My work has appeared in regional, national and international print and radio forums, has won awards, and extends clear back to 1986. In all those years, hundreds of articles, I have only had to make one significant correction and that mistake was based on reporting originally published by The Spokesman Review.
I have an alternative account on telegram ( selkirk cowboy) and my High Mountain Ranch Instagram account remains active--at least as of this writing. But even though these accounts are active, my primary means of communication were via Facebook. If Facebook can arbitrarily silence a long time activist and writer in the LGBTQ community, they can and will silence anyone.
I have no political affiliation. I have always written toward shining the light on truth, fighting for the underdog and against exploitation, prejudices, bigotry and racism. I am among the few of my generation still here to communicate what the HIV pandemic was like, the opportunists, grifters, and failures that defined leadership at that time, experiences that provide valuable lessons in our current situation-- and yet that forthright steadfastness has made me plenty of enemies. I've been doxxed, fielded death threats, and yet always had a loyal following that had my back.
It is long past time Facebook, Twitter, and several other forums face consequence for their heavy handed intrusion into the free flow of information, ideas, and discourse. Please join me in this fight.
Other forums are emerging, but as long as Facebook/Twitter and Google hold so much concentrated power, they will represent a threat to freedom. We must fight back.