I’m not here to whine about censorship like some alt-right dink crashing a White House press briefing to ask a legitimate presidential administration about what horrors will be unleashed if he loses his verified checkmark on Twitter. The various social media organizations have every right to enforce their terms of service, and I knew for a fact that saying things like “men are trash” and “fucking white people” make the robots who watch us cry. Happy as I am that Facebook has taken steps to kick groups like Proud Boys off their networks, I am not going to fool myself into thinking the dudes in the penthouse offices aren’t going to continue to do everything they can to uphold patriarchy and white supremacy they can get away with. Taking a week off is probably good for me anyway.
What I do wish that Facebook would do is automatically post on your timeline when you get banned and why. I have two reasons for this.
The first is that I have a list of about ten people on my friends list that I keep on a mental suicide watch. Some of them have chronic illnesses, some are mentally ill, some have substance problems and some are just run of the mill depressed. When Donald Trump squelched his way into the presidency like month-old ham rolling down an inclined plane, I had several trans friends whose posts made it seem like the next thing they’d be having for breakfast was the barrel of a gun.
If any of those people suddenly disappear, I’m going to wonder if they’re dead. I’m already getting it myself. I had a hospital stay earlier this year that kept me in isolation for roughly three weeks with no social media. A lot of friends scrambled to find out if I was still breathing. As of this writing I’ve been dark for two days and I’m already getting inquiries from folks wondering if I relapsed. Some of them have other ways to contact me, some don’t.
If we have algorithms smart enough to nab me in a comment thread then they’re also good enough to post on my timeline and let folks know I’m just zucced for a week.
More than that, I wish they’d say the reason. Why was I posting men are trash? I’m glad you asked. It was discussion of an article on Buzzfeed by John Stanton about how men are going to Mexico for sex tourism because they feel the #MeToo movement has made things too toxic for their particular brand of rape culture horsepucky. The quote I used in my share was this:
And lately, Hookerfucker1 said something else has factored into Mexico’s appeal: the #MeToo movement, which has empowered many women in the US to speak up about abuse and misconduct. “It's not safe to hit on women in the US anymore,” Hookerfucker1 wrote, but in Tijuana’s Zona Norte, it’s definitely different. “Slapping a strippers ass is not only ok, but encouraged! In the US you'd get kicked out of the club, prosecuted for harassment, fired from your job, and probably listed as a sex offender.”
So, yeah, men are trash. I’m proud to stand against Hookerfucker1 and his ilk, and I’d be glad if my opposition to these CHUDs was plastered all over my page. Sure, I’d get randos calling me a sexist against men, but I don’t want those people on friends list anyway. My blocklist isn’t over ten thousand for nothing.
Every once in a while, Facebook actually does get around banning men for rape threats, slurs and harassment. Let’s see those posted as announcement on a recently banned profile. So-and-so is banned for one week for posting “LOL kill yourself feminazi cunt.” Put up a screencap just like the one I opened the article with. I mean, if the person saying those things didn’t want them seen, they wouldn't be saying them, right? Surely they’re as proud of their words as I am of mine and want people to know why Facebook deems them worth banning.
It might actually do some good. We can excuse away friends' and family’s awful behavior by never staring into the wound of their acidic hate. Your uncle avoids the n-word on your page, maybe, but has no problem hurling it at Maxine Waters. An automatic post for bans would be a great exercise in public shaming. It might even, dare I say it?
Let the free market decide. Or, to use a phrase the kids like, allow the trash to take itself out. We might be better about closing our social circles if we had to confront just what some of the people we know use these platforms to do. Maybe you don’t care that that your old high school buddy thinks all those people in that caravan we’ve forgotten should be shot. If you’re fine with that, more power to you, asshole, but say it where your momma can see it.
As I said in the beginning, there’s a misconception that Facebook bans and Twitter unverifications are infringements on the First Amendment. They aren’t any more than gender identity legal protections are compelled speech, so stop getting your constitutional law information from YouTube. Bans are, in a way, free speech for the private enterprise who run these networks. Facebook makes it clear that “men are trash” is a no-no in their eyes. They’re stupid, but it’s fair of them to express that.
But let’s stop hiding all this. Let’s put all the cards on the table. There’s no reason to by coy. If Facebook is happy with banning people then hang it as a scarlet letter on those people’s pages. If you make no apologies for what you believe, you shouldn’t care. If you’re afraid of what ban-worthy offenses will make your loved ones think less about you, well that’s the all-important social mechanism of shame doing its job. It’s more free speech, not less.