Once is happenstance; twice is coincidence; three times is enemy action.
I encountered Facebook’s moderators for the first time in approximately March of 2020.
I joined Facebook in 2007 – to catch up with @Angelina Greenwood, who was my first friend here, and who I used to live with, back in another life. (Still one of my favorite people in the world.)
In 13 years, I never ran into a moderator. I was the same asshole from Day 1 – nearly the same contempt for modern conservatism, though I grant you it got worse during the Trump years. But the same habits of language, the same tendency to type things like using a four-letter word to suggest that the filibuster become an ex-filibuster and start pushing up daisies.
As though this were completely normal language!
I got banned 30 days by Facebook for that filibuster comment.
I got banned 12 hours by Twitter for that – my first ban on that platform, but obviously the same tripping-the-trigger moderation because stupid AI can’t –
Ah, but no. It’s not stupid.
Three times is enemy action.
I can guarantee you that telling someone that they should “kill their engine,” in an auto thread, is not generating this response. No one gets banned 30 days for typing that you should “kill a process” in your server.
No one is this stupid. It’s true that Facebook has chased off quite a lot of talented people – everyone of any moral quality has or should have left this fascist platform.
But even among those lacking any moral backbone, there are programmers competent to recognize that calling for the filibuster to become deceased is not a call to violence, and not even pearl clutching Nazis could reasonably read it that way.
They’re *all* like that, all the moderation cautions and bans.
Thomas Clay got here before me – and Jim Wright before him. Whacked for various periods because they’d said something the fascist moderators on this fascist platform didn’t like.
Guys, I gotta tell you, particularly where Clay is concerned, that I assumed they’d done something to deserve it.
But I didn’t for 13 years, and when I started getting hit with FB moderation violations, my first assumption was, Jesus, these guys are bad at this – but they’ll get better.
Well, I was right about that. They did get better. They started finding posts I’d made months ago, and flagging those. They found posts with images *hosted* on the FB-owned Instagram, posts with 50K+ shares on Instagram, and flagged and banned over those. They found posts that mentioned the voting habits of white people – bounced me 30 days for that, on the night of the election.
I’ve been banned 90 days since they received the shock to the system of Joe Biden winning the election.
If that win didn’t cause Zuckerberg stress, it should have: no one in our party likes the guy. He lined up visibly with the Peter Theils of the world, involved conservative publications in FB moderation – as fact checkers, folks: took a political movement that has only two tools left to it, white racism and the Big Lie – and made those people FACT CHECKING MODERATORS on Facebook.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Thomas Clay posts, now and again, the “Top 10 Shared Links” of the day on Facebook. Here was today’s:
CBS Sports NBA
CBS 8 – San Diego News
That’s a normal day. (Today’s 2021-05-01, when I happen to be typing this.)
It’s almost never a liberal publication – it happens, but it’s once in a blue moon stuff. I’ve seen Rachel Maddow on the list. But today’s list is typical: all conservative. It’s always all conservative.
Are there liberal publications on Facebook? A bunch. Some of them quite popular, among those of us who share things. But algorithmically Facebook is hostile to them. Facebook reportedly choked traffic for left-leaning news sites including Mother Jones
Facebook repeatedly overruled fact checkers in favor of conservatives
Facebook quietly pressured its fact-checkers over climate and abortion posts
American News X, Thomas Clay’s publication with half a million followers, is on the verge of being delisted by Facebook. Why? For posting *false articles* … as determined by fact checkers employed by Facebook.
There are more like these – this shit happens all the time. *Tucker Carlson* is one of their fact checkers, via the Daily Caller, which he owns.
Picture the response if Rachel Maddow were made a fact checker for Facebook? Right? That’s what they’re doing for conservatives on this site.
These rotten sons of bitches whacked me on the day of the election. Not an accident, and not unique to me – a bunch of other liberals in my feed got whacked in the weeks following. They did their level best to help out the fascist candidate Zuck was hoping for, yes they did.
People are trying to be helpful when I say I’m out of here.
“Don’t use ‘white,’ use wypipo.” Or caucasion, or melanin-deficient.
“Don’t say X, say Y.”
“Don’t post on very busy sites where there are lots of conservatives who will gang report you in hopes of getting one of their fellow fascist moderators involved.”
“Keep a second account, set up in X, Y, Z fashion, so when they whack you you’ll still be able to post.”
Everyone reading me knows what “badthink” is. This is what Facebook is trying to breed, a ground where people PRE-CENSOR themselves. That’s the end goal: not JUST to silence you, but to teach you to silence yourselves, to not even think the things they don’t want you thinking.
“Get ‘white people’ out of your mouths, you filthy liberals.”
Don’t tell me you haven’t walked around that phrase. Most of you have.
I have, and I’m white.
Facebook is bad for America. Giving it time and attention was always a mistake, looking back; but it’s far past mistake at this point. Any money Facebook makes off of you will be used against you. Any visibility Facebook gains from your time on its platform, will be used against you.
It wasn’t always like this. For 13 years I quite liked this platform. I’d wander over to Twitter occasionally, and spend stupid amounts of time trying to get a complex idea across, and fail –
This is also intentional, by the way. Twitter exists to foment outrage. “Engagement.” Those short individual posts, each available for individual response, guarantees that mobs of any given description can descend on a single element of an argument, extract it, have drama about it, and not only not deal with the qualifying clauses of the argument, literally never see them.
If I were designing a platform guaranteed to make people hate each other, it would be Twitter.
Facebook felt sane by comparison. You could make an argument that took ten paragraphs, and even if someone wanted to respond point-by-point (bad form, generally – you should rebut the main ideas in people’s work or you’ll descend into unreadability pretty quickly) – even if someone wanted to do that, the form made it difficult, and it was obvious when it happened.
(Hell, this awful platform had “Notes” until quite recently – very much a blog type post, intended to do long form work with multiple images, inline citations and so on. It’s not a surprise they killed them: it gave work too much weight to be presented so precisely. Not in Facebook’s interests, that.)
It felt sane – hell, for my purposes, was sane. I liked being here. I liked seeing my friends, who were mostly here. In the early days my kids were here, before sane young adults decided that this wasn’t for them – either because their parents were there, or because they caught Facebook’s fascist tilt before the generations older than them – either could be true. (The parents one certainly is.)
In 2007 Connor was five. Richard was eight, Bram eleven, Andrea fifteen, Alex seventeen. They were still literally kids, not just “my kids.”
Today they’re all adults, even the baby, who’s 19 and going off to college in September. He was only home this long because of the pandemic: he was supposed to go to the dorms last year. He’s eager to go.
I’m not eager to have him go. We had an interesting stretch –
Andrea, the geneticist, got a job in Los Angeles, at a considerable pay bump over her previous job in Riverside. I’d just bought a truck, for secret reasons, so I was available to drive to Riverside and pick up her and her possessions. She moved in with us – we’re only a 3 bedroom, but the office, though small, has some privacy, so she moved into that, and I moved a mountain of gear into our bedroom.
Andy got a new job after about a month in Los Angeles – a $20K bump over the L.A. job that was a bump over the Riverside job.
Big cities are good for competent people, and it’s been good for Andy.
She moved out after about a month – found a room up toward UCLA, renting with other “student age” people.
One of the “student age” people was an apparently mentally ill stalker, 31 years of age. I won’t use his name, because I suspect he’s still looking for Andrea – at various times he asked both Andrea and me what our last names were. Only one reason for that, I can see.
One night after Andy had been in the new place for a few weeks, the stalker started knocking on her bedroom window – a sliding glass door that let out onto the street.
For half an hour he knocked “Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits” on her window.
Toward the end of that half an hour, I arrived.
He was hovering toward her back door, and I advanced on him. “Who are you?”
He gave me his name. “I love your daughter.”
I kept advancing on him, and he started backing up. It was cinematic: he backed up into a bed frame down the walkway, fell onto it, fell some more, kept scrambling to get away, fell some more, and finally fell onto the ground, in about four distinct movements.
Andy and one of her roommates, a young college-age girl in the room next to Andy’s, who could see this through her window, applauded, so that was nice.
I talked to him a few moments. The only thing that’s stuck with me is: “Is it a crime to love too much?”
… I should probably not display this much insight into twitches, but I’ve known a number. He wasn’t that mentally ill – some, probably, but mostly this was a game he’d learned to play, that got him the results he wanted, attention and fear from attractive women. (And my kid is cute.)
The police came, they arrested him, the home owner got a restraining order against him –
– I moved Andrea out that weekend. In my useful secret-reasons truck. And everyone was back home again for a few weeks, and it was crowded.
In the short time since Andrea had first moved in with us, her brother Richard, now 22, had gotten Yet Another Raise at my company. (Wholly deserved – they like me there, but they may like Richard better. He’s been there a year now and he’s completely nailed everything they’ve thrown at him. And even with the raises he’s much cheaper than I am.)
Richard and Andrea put their heads together and decided they could afford an apartment together for $2,300 – rented a place down the street, nice complex with a basketball court and swimming pool, for that. Richard gave Andrea his old car (2015 Honda Fit) and bought a much sexier 2015 BMW sedan with only 22K miles. And the two of them moved out together.
The old office has been cleared out. I moved it into Richard’s bedroom, and abruptly, for the first time since I married a woman with 3 kids in 1997, and then had two more, and then raised a family of 5 kids & 7 people in Los Angeles for 24 years – for the first time in 24 years, I have enough space to work without being disturbed by others.
We had a 6 room bedroom in Sherman Oaks, right before my oldest went off to Berkeley. It was necessary, to keep people from killing each other.
Even then, in that huge place, I didn’t have an office of my own; it was out in the second living room, and children were a constant interruption. It was hard to get into a fiction frame of mind, and it’s never gotten a lot easier, working sometimes in my bedroom, sometimes in some nook in the house that’s a little out of the way – but not since marrying Amy have I had an office with a door.
Have one now, though. It won’t last long – Connor goes off to school in September, we won’t move until after he’s gotten through his winter break – but when he goes back to school in early January, we’re probably getting on the road, going off to go look for land to build on.
The University of California, for a few years now, has required parents of children getting in-state tuititon to remain in-state. The gap between in-state and out of state is $30K, and they are *dying* to say you’re out of state and charge you the extra.
Lot of many-hundreds-of-thousand dollar administrator salaries need to be paid, these days.
Not as many teachers.
So our initial plans to move out of state after Connor went to college have been knifed, 2 more years, by the greedy scum running the UC system in California. (Tools of the oligarchs? Why, yes.) We’re looking at Crescent City, we’re looking at Lake Tahoe. If we can wait two years, well, we’ll have the ability to buy and build anywhere.
But we can’t leave California for more than six weeks in a calendar year, or it’ll cost us another $30K.
Connor wants to be a mathematician. He needs that degree. So we do business with the criminals, to get him that paper.
But they are criminals, practically Zuckerbergian.
My buddy Milda Devoe has an interview for her book about writing with children. Great review, great book. You should buy it if you’re a writer with kids. (You should buy it anyway. You an 80 year old ex-longshoreman who never married? This is for you, I promise.)
“Figuring It Out As You Go Along”: Milda De Voe Talks To Domenica Ruta About BOOKS AND BABIES
Sold my first story forty years ago, right about this time of year. Didn’t recognize many of the writers in it except Asimov, though there was a young guy named @David Brin elsewhere in the pages.
I was 18. My Dad, who I hadn’t talked to in two years, cried when I told him.
When the fan mail arrived, ~20 letters on paper, I was homeless and living in a storage unit without plumbing, in the heat of a Pomona summer.
Reading fan mail under those circumstances will cause you dissonance.
Jeff Bezos would send your children to work in coal mines if he could.
Joe was only about my eighth choice – ahead of only Bernie, the crystals lady, the Republican from Hawaii, and the billionaires.
Boy, was I wrong about him. Isn’t he doing great?
I think about 10% of white people would happily engage in genocide if they could, to achieve their white ethnostate. At least half of white people would sympathize or think it was sad but necessary for their “way of life.”
Facebook Stopped Employees From Reading An Internal Report About Its Role In The Insurrection. You Can Read It Here.
Leaning toward the Rockwood RLT2906RSD. I could live in that a couple years.
I have to get rid of a *lot* of books to do so. That’s OK. Some good deals on old backlog coming.
You guys have been great. Thank you for all the love, all the “please stay” messages, all the “I’ll miss you” posts.
Back at you. But it’s time for me to go.