I'm In Facebook Jail


-- चार हजार छह सौ सत्रह --

So. On September 27, one Patti Harrison, a comedian on Twitter I don't even follow, was retweeted by someone I do follow, with this bit that cracked me up:

Now. My friend Shauna loves pigs, so I have long had a habit of posting either adorable photos of pigs, or memes or tweets or posts with funny jokes or gags about pigs, directly to her Facebook page. She always appreciates it. So, I took a screenshot of this tweet and posted it to her Facebook wall.

Within hours -- the same day, I think -- I got a message from Facebook that the post had been flagged as "hate speech" and that no one but me could see it.

Hate speech?

I immediately clicked the buttons they "offer" to challenge such decisions. How the fuck is this "hate speech"? And then, within minutes, I got word back that they stand by their decision that it "doesn't meet community guidelines."

Never mind all of these very salient points:

* It's not anti-men
* It's not even anti-pig
* When read with its humorous intent contextualized, it's really pro men as well as pro pigs
* It's a fucking joke
* It literally does nothing to perpetuate "hate" against any group

But, now comes my biggest mistake. Because I thought this was so utterly ridiculous -- an opinion I still stand by -- I basically thought to myself, Fuck these guys and just attempted to post it to Shauna's page again. I figured, chances are, this could slip through some crack or another and actually just get posted this time. Shows what I know!

The weirdest part was the lag time after my second attempt, which was probably that very same day, about two weeks ago. But it was not until after I got to work today that I encountered this message from Facebook:

You can't post or comment for 24 hours This is because 4 of your previous posts didn't follow our Community Standards on hate speech.

Jesus Christ, you've got to be fucking joking. Now, some more salient points!

* Facebook seems to have some very loose standards as to what constitutes so-called "hate speech"
* One of the most annoying things of all: "4 of your previous posts" is a claim they put above links to . . . two of my previous posts, both of them of this screenshot. What the fuck were the other two?

It's still unclear to me how much of all this is just due to site-scanning algorithms and how much actually passed across the gaze of real, human eyes -- or, if the latter happened, where those hired humans are, what culture they come from, and how much understanding they have of the nuances of American humor.

After doing a bit of research online this morning, I'm still leaning toward the assumption it was all automated, even the "review" after I challenged the first post getting flagged. Consider this post on facebookjailed.com from just last December, illustrating how the phrase "men are pigs" gets people banned from Facebook but, curiously, the phrase "women are pigs" does not. And then I found this Vanity Fair article from as recent as February this year, a deep dive into how Facebook polices what they deem to be "hate speech." It largely focuses instead on the phrase "men are scum," but does also mention "men are pigs" at the very start, and notes that both phrases are broadly blocked as "hate speech" by Facebook. (My first question upon learning that: what if it's a post about someone saying it, and it's just being quoted? How does that work?)

The people interviewed for that article take great pains to illustrate how this is an attempt at "gender equality" in terms of how these things are enforced. They make some fair points, as it happens, but they still have a tendency to turn a blind eye to a lot of the big picture. I haven't had time to read the whole thing, as it is rather long, but I read a lot and skimmed most, and the sticking point for me is how often misogynists target women and harass them and then sites like Twitter and Facebook, even when it's reported, declare it as permissible and not violating "community guidelines." These double standards are widely reported, and then some stupid -- and, ultimately, harmless -- joke that contains the phrase "men are pigs" gets me banned from Facebook for a day. It's this kind of bullshit that makes me reconsider maintaining my account, to be honest. If they really had the "zero tolerance" they want us to think they have for genuinely hateful language, they would apply it equally, and they clearly do not.

Consider this: I already linked to my Facebook post complaining about getting flagged the fist time, and it contains the very same screenshot, not edited any differently, all the exact same visual content, as I had tried to post to Shauna's page. That post remains live, never flagged. Why the fuck is it fine for me to share it to my own page, but it's "hate" speech sharing it on the page of someone I was convinced would appreciate it? I really, really don't get it.

On the other hand, I just had a brief conversation with my cousin Jennifer via Facebook Messenger that kind of put this in perspective and indicated how self-involved I'm being about this -- it happens to a lot of regular people who are not necessarily hateful. She wrote,

Ya it happens

Never happened to me
but one of my friends at
work gets thrown in fb
jail all the time

In fact, it may have even happened to me once or twice before in the 11 years I've been on Facebook and I just don't remember.

It's still annoying and it's still bullshit! And, clearly the broadening of phrases deemed to be supposed "hate speech" is far more recent. And banning "men are pigs" for fear of a backlash by men insisting -- quite wrongly -- that they're being treated unfairly is nothing but yet another byproduct of our misogynist, patriarchal society rearing its ugly head. This dipshit social network site won't even do anything about false claims in political ads. It's disgusting.

-- चार हजार छह सौ सत्रह --


-- चार हजार छह सौ सत्रह --

And then, I discovered later this morning, another wrinkle: it turns out Shauna actually was offended by it.

You may think, that explains it -- she must have flagged it. Except, she told me via Facebook messenger, "No I didn't flag it. Either time." Now, she also never did allow it to be posted to her page; now that I know she actually saw it, this was not a case of it getting flagged before she could even see it and therefore prevented her from seeing it, as I originally thought -- that being the only reason I attempted to post it to her page a second time. I was thinking she never even got to see it. But, she did. And even if she didn't flag it, I suppose it's possible Facebook's systems picked up on her blocking both posts from getting published to her page.

Incidentally, I was very surprised to learn the screenshot bothered Shauna. It's not like she's some sort of prude with no sense of humor; I'll freely admit that the tweet contains off-color humor, but that never put Shauna off before. And I only messaged her a screenshot of my still-active post complaining about getting flagged because I wanted to share with her that it got me banned from posting or commenting (but not, apparently, Facebook Messengering) for a day. And then she came back with: Wow. Just so you know. I didn't like that post. I get why you posted because of pigs reference but was offended by it. I'm not mad at you or anything. Just wanted you to know. 🐷

So naturally I wanted to know why she was offended, and I told her I just wanted to understand. I did also tell her I apologize if I did something she didn't like. So, after assuring me she did not flag it, she added, I just think it was [in]appropriate..especially the end. "And yet I still put out".

Okay, so maybe she was squicked out by the sort of muddled gender politics of the humor. And, admittedly, it's one thing for me to post that to my page and, say, tag her -- and another to post that to her page for all her Facebook friends to see. These are clarifications and details I can understand (even if it still strikes me as out of character for Shauna, with whom I have a long history of sharing and enjoying far more offensive humor). But whether Shauna was bothered by it personally or not, I still feel that getting blocked from posting or commenting to Facebook for 24 hours is something that blows this way out of proportion. It's still insane.

That said, I will have to admit my own hubris in thinking I could in any way put something past a behemoth like Facebook. I would not be in this predicament if I had just accepted the first post getting flagged, bitching about it like I did, and then moving on. But I just had to try posting it to Shauna's page a second time because, "fuck them." In that sense, I was kind of asking for it. I should have known better. As far as I'm concerned even now, I am right and they are wrong. But the idea that I could exert any power whatsoever over them based on my own moral vision is objectively preposterous. It was a pretty moronic thing to do on my part. Just because it's still plainly stupid to anyone with eyes and a brain doesn't do anything to change that fact.

So, for this one day, whatever I am freely able to post on Twitter, I will no longer be able to post to Facebook.

-- चार हजार छह सौ सत्रह --

In other news, I wasted a fair amount of time both yesterday and this morning on this web page, ranking tall buildings in America contextualized in a way I never thought to before: 50 buildings, each the tallest in every state, ranked by height from shortest to tallest. Shortest "tallest building in the state"? The 11-story Decker Towers in Burlington, Vermont. Tallest is of course New York City's One World Trade Center, although that one cheats to get at its 1,776-ft height by putting a 408-foot (the equivalent of a 34-story building in its own right) spire atop a 104-story building. That building's actual roof is 1,368 feet high -- built to match that of the taller of the original Twin Towers -- and that means the actual building that is Willis Tower, formerly Sears Tower, in Chicago stands at 1,451 ft and thus Willis Tower retains the claim of "highest rooftop in the Western Hemisphere." Or, wait! At least it did, until New York City's 95-story Central Park Tower -- to be the world's tallest residential skyscraper -- topped out only last month with a roof height of 1,550 ft. So, I guess Willis Tower really is demoted to the Western Hemisphere's second-tallest rooftop.

Anyway! Seattle's 937-foot is merely the country's eighth-tallest "tallest in the state" skyscraper. There are taller "state's tallest" skyscrapers in Ohio (Cleveland's Key Tower, 947 ft); Texas (Houston's JPMorgan Chase Tower, 1,002 ft); Georgia (Atlanta's Bank of America Plaza, another cheater with a spire reaching 1,023 ft); California (Los Angeles's Wilshire Grand Center, an even bigger cheater with a spire reaching to 1,100 ft even though its roof is only 928 ft high, a whopping 90 ft shorter than L.A.'s own US Bank Tower and shorter even than Seattle's Columbia Center); Pennsylvania (Philadelphia's brand new Comcast Technology Center, 1,121 ft); Illinois (as always, Chicago's Willis Tower, 1,451 ft); and, as expected, New York (New York City's One World Trade Center, 1,776-ft but roof height of 1,368 ft).

As an aside but still totally about skyscrapers, Shobhit and I both discovered independently that there is an observatory in Melbourne's tallest building, the 91-story, 975-ft Eureka Tower, with an observatory on level 88, about 925 feet above the ground. You can bet I'll make a beeline for that on our brief two-day stop in Melbourne between Sydney and Adelaide in March. It even has a glass cube you can step out on, similar to those at Willis Tower -- I absolutely will; Shobhit almost certainly won't.

And, as it happens, defined once again by roof height, Eureka Tower actually is the tallest building in Australia. That title technically goes to Q1 Tower in Gold Coast, but again only because of a cheating spire taking it to 1,059 ft -- that building's rooftop is merely 804 ft high, well below Sydney's 1,014-ft Sydney Tower, although Sydney's tallest non-observatory tower building is actually the 797-ft, 50-story Citigroup Centre (which itself, Jesus Christ, has a spire -- its roof height is actually 676 ft). Anyway although Melbourne is Australia's second-largest city, it has the most skyscrapers as well as the tallest average height of any city in the country -- giving it the skyline with the greatest visual impact -- so, it's appropriate that there should be an observatory in its tallest tower, also the country's tallest if you discount "decorative spires." (For official building heights, they count spires that are part of the overall building design, but not antennas that are placed on rooftops.)

-- चार हजार छह सौ सत्रह --

Okay, what else? I spent my day kind of "go-go-go" all day yesterday. I left work 10 minutes early at 4:20 and still opted to catch a #49 at Fourth and Pike, probably saving me all of five minutes given how long I wound up waiting for a bus to come as opposed to if I had just walked through the whole way home. I still had to get off at Broadway and Pine and walk the last six blocks since I had just missed a #11, but it also still made all the difference: I barely had time to feed the cats, then turned around and walked up to 15th & John to catch the #8 right back down to Lower Queen Anne so I could take myself to see Ms. Purple, which was . . . meh.

I'm glad I'm not seeing a movie or writing a movie review today, as I wouldn't be able to post the link to my review on Facebook. I was planning to see Lucy in the Sky tomorrow, and I may still, but holy shit is it getting bad reviews: a score of 36 on MetaCritic. I have my AMC monthly subscription though, so, whatever.

Anyway, I took a #8 bus back home after the movie, made rice to mix with some Indian meal packets for dinner, wrote the movie review. I actually managed to post photos of Angel's birthday party on Sunday to Facebook during the movie. Yes, you read that right. But take a breath! I was one of literally four people in the theatre, all three of the others several rows ahead of me, and I was in the back row. I wasn't bothering anyone by being on my phone in this case, and the movie was generally so dull I was still able to pay all the attention I needed to.

Shobhit got home from work and I even helped him record a couple video auditions before I finally got to bed. Once again I kept waking myself up coughing, which is very annoying. As the day goes on today, I still cough, but it does feel like it's slightly less frequent. So there's that, at least. I'll take what I can get.

-- चार हजार छह सौ सत्रह --


[posted 12:46 pm]