Censored by Facebook

This isn’t a new problem; it’s a recurring problem and one I’ve never been able to address with any congruity.  To put it simply, in the past, Facebook would prevent me from propagating what I’d written without anything resembling sufficient explanation.  Things now are somewhat worse.

I have my suspicions about the very nature of the censorship and how it occurred, but I sense that I should explain the way that Facebook works before I launch into what might seem an esoteric subject.

Facebook monetizes predominantly through two means: advertising and selling your personal information to advertisers.  I’ll discuss the latter at some other time.  The former is rather two-fold.  Various companies, usually conglomerates, use Facebook as a platform to advertise their products; it’s really nothing new and no different from advertising on television.  The latter of this is however two-fold, concerning entities on Facebook predominantly using Facebook to generate interest.  For example, I’m a writer and an entrepreneur.  I use Facebook as a way of generating both awareness and interest in the things I do [writing serials and writing books].  To that end, I have several Facebook pages representing myself the author and the two universes I’ve generated in my writing.

The mainstay of my marketing strategy has been to increase the number of users who are following my pages.  However, I have to pay to successfully do this.  While other groups that are more colloquial in nature can generate this slowly by the very nature of their inner workings, I basically have to pay to get anywhere.

The more followers I have, the more “organic” impressions I can generate when I post some piece of my work.  The problem I discovered after this is basically one of billboard space.  Facebook won’t necessarily, or even predominantly, show your content to your followers.  You have to pay further money to “boost” what you’ve posted so that your followers will have a much higher chance of actually seeing that content.

You can see that the advertising model of Facebook ensures that you’ll never stop paying them money.

Anyways, I had bitten that bullet long ago.  Problem is now that first, I cannot boost anything and secondly that Facebook is throttling all my organic impressions down to nothing.  I’ve been shadow-banned.  I can only conjecture at how it happened, because Facebook customer support is absolutely obtuse about the issue and only grows more obtuse with further investigation.  It’s possible that there’s an algorithm which automatically places pages with a certain amount of black marks into a shadow-ban folder, but I don’t think that’s actually the reason.  I think that Facebook boosted a post of mine previously about which later people complained.  Fearing to suffer further complaints, I was shadow-banned, basically ensuring that I could almost never post any content.

In the most recent situation, Facebook stipulated that the reason they wouldn’t post my content was that I was posting adult content.  For a minute, I wondered if my writing had become too saucy, although virtually any romance novels will push the boundaries of “good taste” far further that I ever intend, but then I realized that I’d been flagged for posting either pictures or video of pornographic content.

The only attached picture shows a sword lying in a flower bed.

I appealed the flagging, and the response became vague.  Rather than explain how my post was pornographic, they merely explained that it violated their advertising terms of service, and that I should read it some more.  That’s going to become something of a theme in this post.  So basically, what had happened is that they were caught out in their lie, and that rather than tell me the actual reason I’d be flagged, they just doubled down without any sufficient explanation, suggesting it had been flagged for violating the terms of service without indicating which section in the labyrinthine document I violated.  This puts the entire onus of interpreting their intentions upon me, and basically makes it impossible for me to determine what to fix before trying again.

This is by design.

I just want to mention, as an interjection, that if Facebook wanted me to remove all the romantic content from this work, all flirting or kissing altogether, that the entire work would collapse without this central pillar.  And I don’t mean that the work wouldn’t be titillating without titillation; I mean that the plot revolves around the central axis of this relationship formed between a foreign soldier and an overly indulged daughter of a high priestess.  Without that relationship driving the action, there is no actual story.  Would you have the Trojan War without the abduction of Helen?

Frustrated, I hopped on Google to look for any insight that could help me out, but the vast majority of the pages were similarly obtuse, saying to users suffering similar problems that they needed to read the terms of service.  Aggravated, I looked at the users proffering assistance and found them to be employees of Facebook.  Then I looked at the domain names of the websites I happened to be looking at merely to find them all simply help pages of Facebook.

Facebook’s advertising policies deliberately leave nebulous what they define as acceptable or unacceptable.  With profanity, for example, they never indicate what words are profane, how you would use them in a sentence to be profane–things like that.  You never know what Facebook is going to flag as profanity.  And let me tell you, I’ve advertised some profanity laden shit on Facebook only to find myself flagged for a character gesticulating “shit,” just once in some other chapter.

Facebook has two objectives with this kind of shit.  It allows them to craft the constituency and character of their website however they see fit–which is fine–and it also allows them to avoid litigation.  While I don’t think the latter specifically had to do with me, Facebook does have a history of bludgeoning certain users for their political beliefs.  Problem is that this falls into a legal not-so-gray area in which they can be sued with one amidst the several federal non-discrimination laws passed in the seventies fouling them for discrimination against clients and customers based upon political belief.  Whereas, if they had a strict rubric constituting their terms of service, they might fall foul of the law when they show preference for one political group at the expense of another, with a nebulous one, this is much harder to demonstrate in a court of law.

Anyways, unless Facebook bans me outright–which isn’t out of the cards at this point–I’m not going to stop using Facebook, but I won’t be able to post any more of my content there.  I’m going to need to shift my marketing strategy, and I don’t even know precisely how at this point.  I’ll probably be making stricter use of Goodreads, but that may be insufficient.  The problem with alternative social media in general is that it’s simply not geared for writing, writers, reading, or readers.  A number of platforms are designed specifically to demonstrate and share images; some do the same with videos; and others do similarly with audio.  I mean, there just aren’t as many readers as there used to be.  But for those who are into it, I’ll have to direct them to my mailing list.  I can’t be relying upon someone else’s incompetent algorithm and underpaid censor to determine what is suitable for publication.

Anyways, I suppose that’s it for the moment.  I don’t like to be seen as an object of pity, but I’m frankly fucking devastated.  This was the prime means of my marketing strategy, and it’s just be stolen from beneath me, and I don’t know what to do about it.  All I have are vague ideas.