What good is a social media site that punishes people for communicating with each other? That's what a growing number of users are asking after being punished and banned from Facebook for making innocuous comments in posts to others. One of the most egregious examples happened Friday when Examiner.com's Joseph L. Parker thanked someone for liking an article he wrote. On Friday, Parker sent Examiner a screenshot of the message he received telling him his message of thanks was considered "spam" and informing him he was temporarily blocked from posting comments.
This kind of complaint is not unusual, but has become even more common in recent days.
On Thursday, an administrator of the growing Facebook Blackout event was suspended for saying a user named "Linda" was seeking attention. Facebook's Katie Harbath has yet to explain how the message violated Facebook's standards.
On Friday, another event administrator said Facebook claimed she was abusing the tag feature after tagging a few people in a single post about the event.
Mark W. Mumma, a sales manager for Webguy Communications, was slapped by Facebook on Friday for simply engaging in a conversation with someone who disagreed with him.
"Good God Kimberly. What is it like to be scared of people and terrified of people with guns? I don't think I could live with myself if I was scared all the time. How do you do it? It must be awful," he wrote.
Facebook, however, responded with a message telling Mumma that post was removed for violating the site's community standards. Mumma was also banned for 12 hours.
In his response to Facebook, Mumma said he was simply engaging in the very behavior the site allegedly encourages in its own standards.
"I was 'speaking freely on matters of public interest' as well as 'challenging ideas' as encouraged in the very community standards you claim I violated," he wrote. "The Community Standards are simple and straight-forward enough as written, however, they're not being enforced as written."
Another person at the event said he was told by Facebook his post was blocked for being abusive or "spammy."
"This is what I posted: 'Unbelievable.' That's it, one word," he said.
Another attendee said she was banned for simply posting a list of words that Facebook doesn't like without addressing them to anyone in particular.
"I listed all the slang names for races, and sexual preferences, I could think of... I wasn't calling anyone these things. They were just words, one after another. I was just listing them and FB notified me that I was banned for 12 hours because of doing so," said a post at womenexplode.com. "Where I posted these words was on the 'Facebook Blackout page that is set for August 25 to stand for free speech and equality for Conservatives on FB."
The post claims Facebook is "patrolling and sending trolls" to watch what is said on the page and report anything in order to get people banned.
But we have received a number of reports from many who are not attending the event, like Parker.
As a result of what many see as capricious, arbitrary and discriminatory treatment by the social media giant, Facebook Blackout has grown to nearly 14,000 attendees in just a few days.
No doubt, Facebook's recent heavy-handed application of the proverbial "ban hammer" will help increase those numbers as users say they are becoming increasingly tired of being punished like children for innocuous things, things they never did or things that do not violate Facebook's rules. Worse yet, many say they are being singled out for their political or religious beliefs while others who really are violating the rules are allowed to do so with impunity.
Parker said the message he received was "strange" and made him "gun-shy" about thanking anyone ever again for sharing his work.
Oddly enough, he said he was able to post comments on other links.
Ironically, Facebook says in its blog that it "has always been about helping people make connections." Just don't thank them for anything.
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- Facebook bans Fox News’ Todd Starnes over post supporting NRA, Paula Deen, Jesus
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- Conservative bloggers say Facebook selectively enforcing non-existent rules
- Facebook bans conservative blogger for link she did not post
- Facebook targets conservative page for closure, backtracks and apologizes
- Do Facebook policies banning users squelch free speech?
- Facebook page calling for death of Sarah Palin gets more violent
Be sure to listen to "Grit and Grace" every Thursday from 6-8 p.m. Pacific Time on Blog Talk Radio, where you can hear Joe discuss current events.