Facebook Issues: 2023-02-18
Well Facebook took down our backup group now for copyright/trademark violations. Quite heartbroken about it, all the hours and effort put into the group, not just from me but all the people who have helped volunteer over time. We have made guidelines and files to help people avoid being scammed, tips to look out for common scams. Best practices for dealing with people, we have all worked hard to make sure people can interact in a respectful environment, and have banned those who need banning to create as safe an environment as we can that is conductive to a scam free and respectful interactions. We did our best to help people avoid scams and warn others about potential issues, to make sure everyone felt welcome and I am happy with all we had built over time and felt we had helped a lot of people find what they need, sell what they don't and just have good fun. We even had some viral posts and humour, with some people being especially photogenic and taking off.
We were getting emails from Facebook about the issues for a while. They did not say how many more chances we had or what exactly was removed, just anything related to copyrights or trademarks. We figured it was knock-offs and worked hard to stop those. Sometimes they would give us a name and they we would message if the account was still there, sometimes they would respond. One time it was a Disney cake, another time some used brand name shoes, another time it was a TV box that gave streaming services for free. We took the groups private to hopefully avoid copyright bots reporting things, that only seemed to slow it down a bit. A lot of times it seemed to be cross posted and in the warning e-mail it would give us another group's name, likely where they first posted it. We would remove any post that seemed to violate the restrictions and started to remove any name brand items we saw posted regardless if it was a knock off or not. We stopped people from reselling their used items just in case it might flag the bots. It was no longer fun and we no longer felt we were being helpful to the community nearly as much as before.
Facebook has a continuing and increasing issue with bots moderating content. They do not look at or understand context and often get things wrong. Today I just saw a pair of boots flagged for nudity, which they obviously weren't but must have set off enough flags based on text/images. There is often no appeal, or you appeal to a bot that answers in a minute that the appeal was denied. It is quite hard to appeal to an actual person who can look at the context. I made a funny post in the Parents group asking what your kids would say if you turned into a zombie, and I said mine said they would shoot me, at which point I got flagged and warned for advocating for violence, with no way to appeal of course. Often as well things that seem super obvious that are reported are left standing, where I could in the Angry Birds 2 Gamers group get flagged for tagging a person and mentioning popping or killing pigs, as part of a game, actual instances of bullying and violence which can be more nuanced often get overlooked. The platform is becoming outdated and poorly run, after all people are not it's goal, but their product, and they don't seem to care if the quality of that product goes down. I understand they sell me to their advertisers, but you think they would still want their userbase content with the service to use it enough to view the ads. My Facebook usage is rapidly declining as it has become less and less useful. I don't feel I can speak freely there anymore without risk of being removed for one thing or another, and I feel I am generally respectful, don't advocate for violence, post porn, etc. But saying "If you wait long enough that pig will kill himself" will get you restricted. I often do use pop instead of kill, but with context it is clearly related to the game and the image of a pig close to popping and winning the round. But there is no way to appeal or explain context of the comment to Facebook. A lot of people just create multiple accounts, and Facebook has been good to me over the years, by which I mean the community, have found so many great things, met so many great people through it. I have gotten so many great ideas on parenting, house tips, events. Facebook is fantastic for local events and news, communication. But it has failed at becoming a discussion platform. You can get into echo chambers and private groups and how people only go towards where they re affirm their world views, but the bots are one of the biggest issues in trying to have a conversation. The younger generation is learning new things now to avoid these on social media, terms such as unalive instead of kill, calling sex workers accountants.
Facebook isn't alone in issues, no platform is perfect. I have never liked twitter much for the character limit, and making multiple threads is tedious when you really have a lot to say. TikTok has more censorship than Facebook, where so many terms to get around keyword filters came from. Reddit is decent, but lacks the structure of Facebook I feel. But you can build a good community there, just a bit harder to pin resources, but I do enjoy it and don't have to deal with over zealous bots, character limits, you are able to be more liberal in the content you use, even into adult territory. I was really into Facebook files for organizing lists and resources, but they took that option away a while ago where you can only upload files and no longer edit together as a group. Reddit could have a few ways of making lists and pinning local resources, only thing I felt was lacking was a real human connection. It has a more anonymous feel and more public than a private group would be, kind of like the forums of old. Now the internet is dominated by these massive sites, so smaller independent forums as well don't feel like they get the same reach. Discord is more of a messaging app than a social media app, but it has potential. It can be confusing at first to learn but once you get used to it isn't so bad. Reminds of me the chat programs that used to be.
Nothing will quite be like Facebook, and that's okay, every site is its own niche. If I did it all over I would consider a private sub-reddit for the Parents group, and might still make one, but I think there isn't much overlap between parents who use Facebook and those who reddit who would be interested in a group like that. In a parenting group you want to feel a bit safer, so you like the comfort of everyone having real profiles. At least in a local group. For sub-reddits I feel non-local parenting groups can do a lot of good.
It has been quite a saga for our buy/sell groups, and I do feel we did everything we could do. We took them all private from public, we considered putting the whole group on post approval, but it would add 500% more work for us approving each post and likely make the group a lot less appealing. As well I don't think it would help as things kept getting flagged from years ago. We would have to clear the whole group. I am not sure if it is because Facebook wants to promote Marketplace more, which really anyone can post to without admin oversight, so I feel there are more scams and issues there than in a private group. No warnings pinned on common scams, no tips on best practices for using EMTs for buyers and sellers. If they just want to make other businesses happy by being hard on copyright/trademark issues, but don't want to put in the work of human support so turned it over to the bots and set them to be vicious so they are safe from possible mistakes. We constantly worked to be within guidelines, and had our group quality issues go down to under 10 from a high point of 60 or 70 when we did have daily drama and issues. We always tried to keep items legal and in the commerce policy, no breast pumps, no walkers, no used medical equipment, no bongs, even if they were legal we kept to Facebook's policies as best we could.
I have invested a lot of time and energy into Facebook, mostly in the groups where I found niche and local support for various topics. I have found them to be incredibly useful, not because of Facebook, but the people who volunteer to moderate and build these forums, and the awesome people who contribute to them.