A Look Back At Ten Years In Facebook Hell

In case you’re one of the nearly 5,000 people who friended me on Facebook or you’re one of the more than 149,000 who followed my page, “Conservative Firing Line,” you’re probably wondering where I’ve been for the last few weeks.

On Friday, October 9, 2020, I joined the ranks of those made an “unperson” by Facebook, the largest social media site on the planet.  This, after spending just more than 10 years on the platform.

Faye Higbee, a good friend and a contributor to this site, suggested the removal was possibly due to the platform removing 275 accounts using fake profiles to pose as conservatives allegedly for a company doing work for Turning Point USA on the very same day.  Apparently, the company thought I was one of those accounts and banned me.  Perhaps it was due to the fact that I had liked the TPUSA page.

That is speculation on my part, however.  I reached out to several people at Facebook, but received no answer.

This is nothing new, by the way.  About three years ago, the platform removed a number of people they said were Russian bots.  That same day, they removed my wife’s account.  Again, I reached out to Facebook, but the issue was never resolved.  My wife, by the way, is a cancer survivor.  And she’s no Russian.  In fact, she’s a born and bred California girl, something I’ve relished about her for more than 30 years now.  She’s a good sport, though, and we still joke about that incident, with me referring to her as “Natasha.”

I’d like to reflect back on my time in Facebook “hell,” if I may.  I’d like to say that I enjoyed my time on the platform, but in all honesty, a part of me regrets having ever joined up.  Yes, I’ve made some good friends there, and reconnected with people I haven’t spoken to in decades.  On the whole, however, I can’t say it’s been all fun and games.

I first joined the site in mid 2010 shortly after I began writing for Examiner.com, a site that went defunct back in 2016.  I created my first page, “Spokane Conservative Examiner,” to help promote my work for the column that went by the same name.  It was slow going, but it eventually garnered around 58,000 followers when Facebook took it down as part of the “Great Purge of 2018.”

Facebook told me at the time the page violated the following rule: “Artificially increase distribution for financial gain,” a rule that no one can comply with, let alone truly understand, since nearly all websites use advertisements for revenue — even Facebook.

Shortly after I first joined the platform, I experienced my first ban.  Apparently someone thought I wasn’t really me, and reported me.  I was, to say the very least, shocked, to learn that I wasn’t a real human being.  I jumped through their hoops — which wasn’t easy, by any stretch of the imagination — but got nowhere.

I finally got someone’s attention when I threatened legal action for their false claim, and my account was restored.  Things went well for a short period of time until I got word that one of my friends was banned from the platform for something she never even posted.  That sounded rather odd to me, so I wrote about it.

From that point forward, I began hearing other stories from people who had run afoul of Facebook’s Orwellian moderation.  I dismissed some of those stories since it turned out the persons making the claims actually had violated some of the platform’s rules.  But there were a number of stories that, in my opinion needed, to be told.

Here’s just a few of them:

Flashback: Facebook tells conservative user picture of lilac tree ‘pornographic’

Facebook: Pic of puppy violates community standards, earns user 30-day ban

Facebook punishes user for complaining about death threat from Islamist

Breitbart editor: Laughter now violates Facebook’s standards

There’s more… MUCH more, as you can see here.

It really is no wonder that cartoonist A.F. Branco once called the site, “Iron FistBook.”

Cartoon of the Day: Iron FistBook

But I digress.  In 2015, moderators at the site began banning me over posts that were forged to appear as though I made them.  I learned that others were experiencing the same phenomenon.  As soon as one ban was lifted, the next one magically showed up.  This harassment continued for about a seven-month period.  Finally, in early 2016, the abuse let up.

I reached out to a number of attorneys, and eventually learned about something called Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which, for all practical purposes, lets companies like Facebook do pretty much whatever they want to their users with zero consequences.  One attorney wrote back, telling me I should continue to pursue justice.

So I did, in the only way I knew how.  Working with American-Israeli Adina Kutnicki, we published what I believe is the first book of its kind specifically dealing with Facebook’s Orwellian policies and moderation — “Banned: How Facebook Enables Militant Islamic Jihad.”  The book is still available on Amazon, at least for the time being.

You can read an excerpt of that book, below:

Book excerpt: A look back at Facebook’s abuse of its conservative, anti-terror users

In November 2016, not long after Donald Trump won the election, Facebook decided that a page profile picture that included an American flag and an eagle violated their so-called “Community Standards.”  Because I was an administrator of the page, I got hit with a 30-day ban.

Facebook: U.S. flag violates community standards, earns user 30-day ban

That’s right — 30 days in Facebook jail because a moderator at the site was triggered by the sight of an American flag.

After about 22 days, the ban was lifted.  But the harassment continued, with various slaps for allegedly posting to groups too fast.  Then the shadow-banning started and over the next three years or so, I saw our traffic from Facebook drop by as much as 85 percent.

At some point in all this, I signed up for something called “Instant Articles.”  I felt at the time that I really didn’t have much choice.  The word going around was “either sign up or see your traffic slashed.”  No pressure there, right?  So I signed up with the hope that I would see an increase in traffic and revenue.

It worked, at least for a little while.  But as is usually the case with Facebook, the rules changed in the middle of the road.  Yup, you guess it — we lost our access to Instant Articles.

But we soldiered on.  Then I noticed something else — while we weren’t getting banned for stupid, nonsensical things, our traffic decreased significantly and the site began fact-checking memes — political jokes that use pictures to get a point across.

Then suddenly, without any warning, I was banned from the site.  Then my page disappeared.  Shortly thereafter, one of my contributors told me that the oldest and largest Tea Party group on the site was gone.

At first, I was livid.  But I’ve since moved on.  Do I miss Facebook?  Sure, I miss connecting with the people I had gotten to know on the site, but the truth is, I feel as though a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I can now surf the web without fear that a moderator will get triggered by my presence.

I’ve also noticed something else.  I expected traffic to this site to drop considerably.  But it hasn’t.  In fact, it hasn’t decreased at all, and on some days, is even better than it was when I was on Facebook.  That indicates to me that the company was deliberately shadow-banning my posts.

Would I go back to Facebook?  At this point, that would be a bit like a death camp survivor volunteering to go back to Nazi Germany.  Thanks, but no, thanks.  Enough is enough.  Until Congress takes firm solid steps to stop the foolishness, I will never even consider it.

What’s the takeaway from all this?  From what I’ve seen and personally experienced, Facebook is — in my humble opinion — not an honest broker and is not to be trusted.  My advise to those still on the platform is simple: Leave.  Similarly, my advise to those considering Facebook is just as simple:  Don’t do it.

Like many others, I have moved on to alternate platforms — Parler, Gab, MeWe, Codias, and others.  As far as I am concerned, the world would be a much better (and happier) place without Facebook, one of the prime members of what I now call the “Silicon Valley Axis of Evil.”

In our book, Adina and I predicted that if the issue of Facebook’s censorship wasn’t addressed quickly, the situation would be untenable within five years.  It’s only been four years, and we’ve all seen what’s happened.  As Newsbusters noted in its analysis, Big Tech, along with Big Media, have essentially stolen the 2020 election.

Now we are in a situation where perhaps only one Senate vote may be all that stands between liberal tyranny and freedom, thanks in part to Facebook’s censorship and Orwellian “moderation.”  Freedom-loving Americans need to take a stand now, before it is too late.


Facebook, Google and other members of the Silicon Valley Axis of Evil are now doing everything they can to deliberately stifle conservative content online in an obvious effort to help Democrat Joe Biden, so please be sure to check out our MeWe page here, check us out at ProAmerica Only and follow us at Parler and Gab.  You can also follow us on Twitter at @co_firing_line.

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Joe Newby

A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe ran for a city council position in Riverside, Calif., in 1991 and managed successful campaigns for the Idaho state legislature. Co-author of "Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad," Joe wrote for Examiner.com from 2010 until it closed in 2016 and his work has been published at Newsbusters, Spokane Faith and Values and other sites. He now runs the Conservative Firing Line.

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