No Glad Tidings Go Unpunished! #Facebook and #Instagram

Dec 12, 2021 | Op-Ed

Greetings and Happy Holidays from InstaJail™
(“Just Add Water!”)

I am on a three-day ban from posting or commenting (I can still send suggestive DMs and tiny heart emojis), presumably because I followed too many authors and wished them “Happy holidays!” too quickly. I’m sure I’d told them all to buy Bitcoin or fuck off, it would have been allowed.

Well, dear @Instagram, joke’s on you – I can type faster than you can review my bitter complaint to the Help Desk, which I am guessing is located somewhere in the Himalayan hinterlands where everyone is fast asleep or applying for job openings at the North Pole.

Speaking of those openings, I hope that Santa isn’t advertising on LinkedIn, unless he’s serious about it being a very white Christmas. They operate under a thin veneer of professional respectability, but they do little to discourage imposter accounts and plagiarists masquerading as “influencers.”

P.S. In all seriousness…

Surely, by now, we all know there are good reasons to #DeleteFacebook, right? Like the imminent downfall of civilization as we know it (or maybe just the creation of uncivilization as it currently stands). Supposedly, Facebook whistleblower’s testimony could finally spark action in Congress (but I wouldn’t hold my breath).

Facebook and the other big, commercial social media platforms are just calling our bluff; they always have and will until they gasp their last. But they are about as “necessary” to our lives as cocaine, booze, or cigarettes and maybe more addictive and harmful, at that. Why do we stay? Because we’re addicts. We blame each other – “Because family and friends!” and “I’d leave, but then I’d lose touch with my grandkids!” and of course Facebook exploits the fact that we are the worst sort of enablers, all of us.

I’ve tried to leave, more than once, with less success than I had in quitting smoking. I’ve been smoke free since 2006, but damned if I could stick to my guns when it came to Facebook. Believe me, I am not standing here preaching at you with an air of superiority. WE have a problem.

Well Played, Facebook is about “that time Facebook tried to strong-arm me into installing their malware on my PC, but I took the jail sentence, instead, and made new friends.” See also:

Ash Wednesday: Observing Lent from a Secular Perspective is less about “observing Lent” than it is about “that time I reported actual kiddy porn on Facebook, only to be told (repeatedly) that ‘This does not violate our Community Standards.'” After a dozen friends reported it and got the same response, I could only conclude that Facebook’s “community standards” are the stuff scraped from the bottom of your shoe after a stumble through the dog park, or the murky depths of a cesspool. So don’t lecture me about compliance with “community standards,” Facebook, when you’ve set the bar so incredibly low.

We must enjoy being treated like Facebook’s lab rats. Click that previous sentence for scores of scholarly articles on Facebook’s psychological experiments, conducted on their users without their users’ knowledge or consent. Yet here we are. Still. They should at least pay us or feed us little treats – even Pavlov’s dogs and Skinner’s pigeons got little treats.

“Facebook published the results of a 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Unbeknown to users, Facebook had tampered with the news feeds of nearly 700,000 people, showing them an abnormally low number of either positive or negative posts. The experiment aimed to determine whether the company could alter the emotional state of its users.” They’ve been at it since at least 2012, and there’s no sign they have any intention of ceasing to manipulate millions of people until they are forced to stop.

As Rhett said to Scarlett O’Hara, Facebook and its ilk “are like the thie[ves] who [aren’t] the least bit sorry [they] stole, but [are] terribly, terribly sorry [they’re] going to jail.”

Which Social Media Site Is the Most Ethical? Let’s hope none of them break an arm patting themselves on the back. Because I’d argue that none of them dare claim bragging rights to being the “most ethical.” They could all do better. LinkedIn operates under a veneer of professional respectability, but they have as many imposters, trolls, bullies, plagiarists, and superficial “influencers” as any other social media platform. Their attempts at automated content moderation are as misguided and ham-fisted as any other.

Meanwhile, on most of these platforms, attempts to call out real wrong-doing or engage in real conversations are often infuriatingly (or hilariously) met with seemingly random “suspensions” and bans. Beware – if you’re staying on these platforms to keep in touch with family or friends, or to operate your legitimate business, you could be shut down without notice or recourse, because review of these actions by real humans possessed of common sense is nearly impossible to obtain. Despite them all giving lip-service to their desire to be more inclusive and “welcoming.”

Note, too, that if you report inappropriate content on LinkedIn, you’d best get a screen capture first. Because they will keep it on the site; they’ll just hide it from you (you little “snowflake”) so you don’t have to be offended by it. They won’t actually address the problem, in other words. But then, when they tell you it doesn’t go against their “community standards,” and you request an appeal, they’ll ask for your email address (which of course they already have, right?) and the URL of the offensive content, which they have conveniently hidden so that you can’t find it again.

Yeah. Happy holidays, everyone!  

Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.



    Left FB 18 months ago.

    …still wondering if / when I’n going to start missing it… 😂

    Of course, my livelihood does not depend on being connected there, or anywhere else.

    I think Ravelry is the only social network I’m on, other than MFP occasionally. If so many former SP folks who were on the Maintenance Hall if Fame hadn’t gone there, I wouldn’t be there, either. The Garmin app doesn’t count, and neither does my food tracker LoseIt; both are very poor for communicating.

    I pretty much only email and txt these days, other than commenting on blogs, LOL

    • Holly Jahangiri

      And I love that you comment on mine! You are the only person I know who ever uses the social aspects of Garmin (and one of the few it’s fun, not creepy, to share maps with!)

      I’m not good at leaving Facebook and don’t like it when people threaten to but don’t (so I try not to be one of those people). But I don’t post as MUCH as I used to. I usually post “friends only,” then try to spent time conversing in comments. My own wall is a well moderated space. 😏 But I’m also well aware that only about 10 people would even notice if I stopped posting. That’s our of over 2000 “Facebook friends.” And I don’t say that in a self pitying way – I have been online 30+ years. We DON’T “keep up with” family and friends online. We entertain ourselves and them with “new and shiny” posts. That’s it. Out of sight = out of mind.

  2. Mitchell Allen

    Out of sight, out of mind. that is the key to the so-called digital footprint. Faceless, soulless databases that house forum software will send you a birthday greeting every year. Facebook friends are TOLD that it’s your birthday. In both cases, you are out of mind milliseconds after the message is sent.

    You are not your online persona, nor are you the sum of all your profiles, websites and comment breadcrumbs. Ultimately, social media will implode into the same sinkhole that swallowed typewritten letters, long-distance calls and polaroids.

    I treat my Facebook account like a dust bunny behind the steamer trunk in the attic. Nobody goes up there except spiders and mice.



  3. Mitch Mitchell

    I read this days ago but decided to wait before commenting. I definitely have a different take, but it’s not quite in opposition to what you’ve had to say.

    First, I’m staying on Facebook; just to get that one of the way. I’m staying because, yes, I’m connected to family members that I’ve gotten to know better than I got to know them over the course of the first 55 years of my life. I’ve also been able to reconnect with people I went to college with and a few I worked with whom I always liked (not sure if I used “whom” properly since my first thought was “who).

    Second, I used to have all those same feelings you did about Facebook and Twitter; I don’t pay as much attention to LinkedIn unless I come across stuff you and Sharon have shared that either also makes me mad or makes me give it like… sometimes a comment. I use filters on both platforms, so there’s lots of stuff I don’t see and I don’t get irked by it. On Twitter I still see stuff that irks me, but it’s stuff I agree with… which is an interesting change of scenery. I’m thinking about adding more Twitter filters as time goes on, but as it pertains to Facebook, all my filters are working very well.

    Third, which you know is coming (lol), you love agitating platforms and others who don’t live up to your expectations. When you yell at Twitter you add their handle; when you fuss at Facebook or LinkedIn, you do the same thing on their platforms. I knew a decade ago that none of these would live up to what I wanted them to be, so I do things my way, use them for my purposes, and move on with life. I’ve had a lot to deal with over the last 5 years, and now I have a new thing to deal with in 2022, only for once it’s only about me. I have a criteria which would drive me off Instagram, but the other two haven’t indicated the possibility of doing a similar thing, so for now I’m good. But if either of the other two cross the line… I’m out of there, relatives and friends or not; I’m used to spending my life alone.

    • Holly Jahangiri

      Thing is, I’m past caring if any of them kick me off. Silence in the face of their wrongdoings feels complicit, so yes – I yell at them on their own platforms, and I tag them, because I won’t talk behind anyone’s back and say things I wouldn’t say, or haven’t said, to their faces. We all have our “red line” but then again, no – we don’t ALL. I watch some friends contort themselves like pretzels to justify staying on some of these platforms. For me, it came down to “I don’t jump off a cliff and kill myself because there’s evil in the world. The Pope’s on all of these big social media platforms. I’ll USE them like they USE people, and feel no remorse whatsoever – because they sure as hell feel none when they hurt us. I will not click or buy through their ads, and if they ever start charging money for using their platform, I will not pay.”

  4. Holly Jahangiri

    Oh, I’m staying… Who doesn’t love a good trainwreck? But Facebook is a sneaky big cow on the tracks – they’ve got us all creating content on their platform (all the better to convince advertisers they’ve got AMAZING user engagement metrics) and sharing headlines (I wonder if there’s any research on how many users ever actually click through, let alone read the articles?)

    I used to be appalled by your filters (still am, in principle, and you can see my predictions coming true, now, as more and more sites put up paywalls – you either put up with ads or there’s no such thing as a free internet). But I’m about to the point where I wouldn’t cry if someone is someone pulled the plug on all social media. The internet itself is now far too entrenched in our lives, and it’s a major security hole for the unwary to fall in. We were alive before it existed and we’d be just fine without it. Probably better.

    As for me agitating platforms and tagging them, would you have any respect for me if I complained about you behind your back? If I won’t say it to their faces, I might as well not say it.

    You wouldn’t have to spend your life alone. Just get important contact info now and keep it up to date like we did in the dark ages. 😏

    • Mitch Mitchell

      I talk on the phone maybe once a week… if that. I don’t text a lot of people. Life would get extremely quiet if I left FB.

      • Holly Jahangiri

        Or Twitter. I see more of you on Twitter, Instagram, and your blog/YouTube than I do on Facebook.

        Again, I’m not leaving Facebook, just trying to resist the urge to give them free content.

  5. Victor Winners

    You know, these platforms do all sorts and get away with it. Sometimes you don’t even get any explanation for the ban or options to get yourself sorted.

    It’s really sad how thinking that one will take years to build platforms and followers, only to have one sadist flag your post or page for something you know nothing about and then dang, your page is gone. Too bad.

    I believe there should be some sort of regulations on all these to ensure fairness. Right now the system is just too bad.

    More like we’re all walking on egg shells. And this should not be so.

    • Holly Jahangiri

      Thank you, Victor – I agree. It’s a challenge on all sides. They have to protect everyone against the faceless internet horde, the trolls (the ones just “out for the lulz”), the propagandists spreading outright lies and dangerous misinformation – and they do a terrible job of it. In their ham-fisted attempts at moderating using AI tools, they just miss the boat. They’ve grown too large, too fast, and too thoughtlessly to keep up with human malice. It’s one thing to deal with “unpleasant” people; they’re actually not that bad. But the malicious ones? No one is paid enough to deal with those.

      All that said, there should be some sort of reputation-based review. That is, if you’ve been on a platform for 5, 10, 15 years or more without serious issues, maybe you should go to the top of the human-review queue when you appeal an AI action against you. If you’ve been active on a platform for a shorter time, but have contributed a body of positive posts and comments (not just “have a billion followers,” but actively and genuinely interact with good people who might vouch for you) you should rise to the top of the human-review queue. I don’t know how it works, today, in practice. And I would not ever want to bet my BUSINESS on any of them, because there is no good way to contact effectual customer support directly and quickly. That’s one thing Amazon’s got right, somehow, and I’m not sure how they manage it, big as they are, but they are very customer-focused and you CAN reach a live person quickly when the chatbot won’t do the trick.


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