Banished by Facebook — the new justice by internet

I have been exiled from Facebook Land, a status that really should have a status bar all its own. Actually, it was just one post that got summarily banished — but still…

Facts of the case: I posted, not long ago, a brief story of interesting discoveries made by the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation that were reported in a segment on MSNBC. The foundation, headed by Dr. David Waters, DVM, PhD, works to extend longevity in pets and people through collection of vast amounts of data, much of it canine data. The news involved a 13-year-old Rottweiler named Kona.

PETA strongly supports the work of the Gerald P. Murphy Foundation. I thought I’d throw that into this report. The earlier post didn’t mention PETA, but it was clear about this fact: the foundation collects data, it does not conduct experiments using animals. The story was about clues to longevity found through data analysis.

Oh, well — dogs and research were mentioned, and flags went up somewhere in cyberspace.

The post was reported as abusive. Facebook summarily removed the whole thing, and anyone who encountered the link on my Facebook page was greeted with the message that I had been cited for abuse. No way could whoever reported me have actually read the piece.

We come now to a small detail in the U.S. Constitution usually called the confrontation clause, something about facing one’s accuser – or at least knowing what one is accused of. The framers of the Constitution didn’t know about Facebook, whose policy apparently is if someone, anyone, thinks you’ve done a bad, you’re off the page, and that’s the end of that. (You want to talk to someone about it? Try finding a Facebook face you might be able to face, virtually or otherwise.)

I have no immediate plans to sue Facebook. It seems in a way a badge of honor – I mean, how many people to you know who’ve had a post kicked off of Facebook? I am a little sorry about those folks who missed learning of an innovative nonprofit thanks to someone who didn’t bother to do so.

But now that this post is headed to my Facebook status bar, and includes the magic word combination, we wonder if I will be doubly banished.

Stay tuned.

8 responses

  1. That’s a crappy thing for Facebook to do (though I sort of wish they’d kick ME off, temporarily or otherwise, so I didn’t have to keep up the pretense of Facebooking). On the other hand, I don’t see how the confrontation clause would apply here–you’re not on trial. As far as I know, sites can kick us off whenever they wish and for whatever reason they choose. The difference between right and legal, I suppose.

    I can’t close without making a “faceless”/Facebook pun. Anyway, I hope you don’t feel like too much of a renegade. I was once told not to come back to an antique mall, if it makes you feel any better. Odder expulsions have happened.

    • You’re right, Savio, and I probably shouldn’t invoke the confrontation clause on piddling issues of this sort. I just think in some cases (like this one) the kick-em-off-without-thought policy is rather petty itself. Renegades do survive: I was kicked out of the Girl Scouts when my sister and a friend and I persisted (after one warning) in riding our bikes by the ice cream store and showing up late. Having been good Scouts too long, we felt ice cream more worthy at that point.

  2. The Constitution places limits on the federal government from passing laws. It has no hold over interactions between private individuals or individuals and corporations. It’s good that you have no plans to sue them, because you have zero legal standing to do so. You’d never even make it to a court; lawyers would laugh you out of their offices before you ever filed the case.

    Facebook – the vapid, whirling cesspool that it is – is private property. Much in the same way that I could kick someone out of my house or off my land for saying or doing something I disagree with, Facebook can boot you for doing something it deems inappropriate.

    If you disagree with Facebook’s policies, the best solution is to not use Facebook.

    • OK, Uncertain, I’ll call off plans to call in the law. Seriously, I was kidding about suing, and have been thoroughly put in my place about being a little too fast and loose with application of the confrontation clause to insignificant — and private — issues. I’m with you on the vapid whirling cesspool summation, but a testimony to my wimpishness is that I have no plans to cancel my Facebook page.

  3. Banishment without representation seems to me to be a new form of cyber bullying! Let’s see if the bully is lurking out there with nothing else to do today….I’m staying tuned!

    • Well, this post hasn’t been pulled yet. Maybe some of its readers have even checked out the 12/07/09 piece about (or the website of) the fine work being done by the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation which it was all about. Facebook may be too busy with Tess’ petition to be ungrounded. I think I may opine later today on how happy I am not to be raising teenagers in the age of the internet.

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