I Made An Easter Joke And Facebook Shut Me Down
On Easter Sunday evening I was reported (twice) for violating Facebook's "Community Standards" on nudity for the following status:
Jesus died for your sins then came back 3 days later to clarify "except the gay ones, gross."
I want to be very clear. This is a joke, and a pretty hilarious one at that. I know, because I wrote it. If for any reason, you feel offended by the "nudity" in the aforementioned joke, please walk away from the computer. In fact, if you're offended by the "nudity" you see in any words, go to the roof of whatever building you're on and jump. Because that is ridiculous and impossible.
Maybe you didn't get the joke. Hey man, that's cool. Bonnie Raitt taught me long ago that I can't make you love me if you don't. If you won't.
If you thought that I was being blasphemous, or that I don't understand Jesus' stance on homosexuality (he didn't have one), or took issue with my use of comma placement, I behoove you to shelve your outrage until you finish reading this. You may find you don't need it after all.
I received two notifications last night that my post had been reported.
I'd post both, but they look the exact same. I didn't think much of it, sort of laughed it off.
Then I woke up to a text from a friend asking if I'd deactivated Facebook. No, I sure hadn't but Facebook sure did shut down my page temporarily. What had happened was, they reviewed the report and concluded that the "nudity" in my post violations their terms and conditions.
Unfortunately, I was too groggy at the time to grab a screenshot so you'll just have to take my naked word for it. I had to acknowledge the incident (by clicking "ok," I think) before Facebook would take my profile out of timeout.
We have reached a point in our society where the greatest offense has become being offensive; the fear of backlash has people boarding up their words and thoughts in preparation for the Outrage Tornado heading right for us. Where does it stop?
If someone reported it as being offensive to their religious beliefs, I guess I could understand that, though it would still be ridiculous. But somebody went through a multi-step process to label my words as "pornography" and Facebook took a look and decided
Allow me to rephrase in words with a little more clothing on them. Multiple people (or one very passionate person) reported me to an authority figure under false pretenses, simply because they had a petty disagreement with me that they were too cowardly to address directly. There are other times in history when this has happened - Salem Witch Trials, McCarthyism, the Holocaust. I'M NOT SAYING THIS IS ON PAR WITH THE HOLOCAUST! Is Patton Oswalt right? Will all of our words soon require lengthy disclaimers? To quoth the Internet, SMH.
Listen, I get it. We get outraged by the Internet, it's kind of our thing now. We're so good at it. Report me all day, every day. But there are people (probably? robots, maybe?) at Facebook "reviewing" these reports and rolling over to an anonymous person's word-rage and blindly censoring people. This sets a terrible precedent for online behavior. What is to stop someone from reporting an ex-lover, a former employer, or anyone who has ever slighted them? If I have to be held accountable for my words and actions, so should everyone else. If you want to be word-raged, you should be required to stand by it.
Of course Facebook is within it's rights to uphold it's community standards, but it didn't. What are Facebook's "standards" on sexual exploitation? Funny you should ask:
Facebook, you are falling below your own standards and kowtowing to the emotions of an anonymous person out of fear. Fear causes people to shut up, shut down, stop, hide, hate, give up. I will never do any of these things, and neither should you.
We are entering an age where people are more outraged by rape jokes than by the act of rape. We would rather virtually vilify someone for a joke about social injustices of past, than address the active hate and discrimination happening in our society today. We have become the very joke we are offended by. We are victims of our own word-rage.
We are living in the Digital Age, but we can't forget to be human. Make eye contact. See your friends IRL. Tell somebody if you don't like what they're saying.
And for the love of God, think before you blog.