Facebook Alienates Secularists and Scientists – One Anonymous Moderators Story

I am aware that just writing this puts me in the position of jeopardizing my place as a Facebook moderator, but it’s about time someone do this. Since I have never really used my real name on Facebook, I am hoping that those who know me will keep quiet and those who don’t won’t concern themselves with the messenger as much as the message.

Facebook Does Not Care About Your Page

No one should really have to tell you this. If you run a secular or science related page you have probably already experienced reports, bans, hacks and more. Just keeping your account and page going seem to be a full-time job. But while it may be a full-time job for you, there are actually people working behind the scenes that do care about your freedom of speech, your right to enjoy secularism and science, and your protection when it comes to how your city, state or country may treat you for sharing your opinions. However, it is vital to note that the actions of these rogue mods is not supported by Facebook development, managers or its famous co-founder, Zuckerberg. I constantly see atheists yelling about how they can’t believe Zuckerberg doesn’t support them considering he is an atheist. Let me reassure you of one thing right now. He DOES NOT give a shit about your page. He cares about advertising. That is why when large countries like India and China threaten to pull out, Facebook devs go into a flurry of reporting, banning and deleting activities on pages that seem to generate the most controversy. For the record, several countries have threatened to pull out of Facebook citing that secular pages have caused civil unrest in their regions.

This is obviously witchcraft. Thou shalt not suffer a coin to live!

This is obviously witchcraft.    Thou shalt not suffer a coin to live. Stupidicus 3:14

Science Flies in the Face of Faith

While I actively spend hours per day trying to unban admins from secular pages, nothing frustrates me more than trying to cope with the irrational human beings’ reaction to science. I have spent many hours combating the trolls that visit a very popular science page known as I Fuckin’ Love Science.  Some of the complaints I have read include:

“Please remove this picture, I do not believe in this coin and it goes against my beliefs.”

“Jesus teaches us that not all things we can see are worth believing in. I am reporting this because science has proven dinosaurs did not exist.”

“I don’t like Bob Barker, he is a pervert and should not be represented on this page.”

Secular Charities Enrage Stupid People

One of the most frustrating issues I have dealt with in recent months was the banning of the moderator and an incredibly charitable gentlemen who dedicates his time and his life, to improving the living conditions and the health and rights of the people of India. Responsible Charity is just that, responsible. They share where their donated funds go, they are genuine, real and admirable in a time where no one trusts charities anymore, the horror stories about misappropriated funding, deviant behavior and other fraudulent ‘charities’ still fresh in the minds of many. And here is one, doing the right thing, and their administrator is banned for posting pictures that do not make the religious feel warm and fluffy. You know who does get to feel warm and fluffy? Hopefully the people that charity takes care of, even if just for a minute. I’d throw Facebook in the trash forever if it would earn one dollar for this charity, but the moderation team has fought long and hard to repeal a month-ban on the admins account, only to be met with bugs, roll backs and general hamster on a wheel functioning that Facebook has become while they are trying to implement video advertising. Because like I’ve tried to tell you, that is literally all that matters here.

Buzz Aldrin refuses to admit he is Bob Barker. He also wants you to know he is tired of your shit.

Buzz Aldrin refuses to admit he is Bob Barker. He also wants you to know he is tired of your shit.

Facebook has it’s purposes in the big picture; most certainly we are all there for more than just the general sociable circle-jerk of digital high-fiving with a side of narcissism that we all enjoy when we participate there. However, I now want to share the other side of the coin with you. 99% of reports are sent to an automated system that uses an algorithm of a combinations of triggers and filters based on your account. What this means is that when you get banned for some batshit reason, don’t take it personally. No individual, sitting idly by, sipping latte.. has looked at your report and said, “He posted a picture of Mother Teresa riding a T-Rex holding a shot gun, he’s OUTTA HERE!” More than likely, your account just got banned on the popular internet premises, “Because, who cares?” along with an algorithm built to do exactly that. You ever noticed how Facebook doesn’t have a nice blog posting new updates we can expect? Did you notice that Facebook has no real reachable customer service numbers or emails? Did you pick up on how last week, when the Richard Dawkins Facebook page was hacked, it was returned to its admin within a couple of hours?

Several people who know me and what I do on Facebook’s back end asked me how the RD page got fixed so quickly when other sites like Sexy Atheists took a lot longer to return. There are two contributing factors to this.

Sexy Atheists is a great page, however, they aren’t, you aren’t, Richard Dawkins. Don’t get your tits in a rage, I don’t mean that, “Hahaha! You aren’t Richard Dawkins, you suck! Hahaha!” I mean, you aren’t Richard Dawkins. You don’t have millions of people willing to listen to you complain about Facebook’s policies, he does. Period. By the way, you yourself aren’t making that situation any better by only using Facebook to ‘share your message’, whatever it is. While it still has a few years left in it before some 12 year old creates a better network, you should realize right away that it isn’t going to be around forever.

I put a special note "S1" on the accounts of people who deny dinosaurs or claimed they were buried by satan. S1 isn't really fancy, it just stands for Stupid One. This alerts other moderators to the fact that they can then begin pointing and laughing at your profile.

I put a special note “S1” on the accounts of people who deny dinosaurs or claimed they were buried by satan. S1 isn’t really fancy, it just stands for Stupid One. This alerts other moderators to the fact that they can then begin pointing and laughing at your profile.

The Sexy Atheists admin wasn’t a part of the admin group that helps secular and science page owners to deal with these banning frenzies when it first occured. FYI, the bans and reports are most often carried out by packs of religious trolls that know a little bit more about coding than the average bear, but fortunately, my early days on the Internets IRC’s taught me more. The SA page was returned to its owner within two hours of our getting in contact.

I am not a braggart, I never work alone. There are other individuals on the back end that support me, I support them. We take shifts so that I can guard their pages when I am awake, they are sleeping – and vice versa when it’s my turn for a nap. And in some cases, like with the RD Foundation page, the posts I make asking people – YOU PEOPLE – to email Facebook about, get righted in that way, too.  Don’t stop doing that whatever you do. I wish I had a solution for you, but as I warned my group at the beginning of this year, things are getting worse for the secular pages, not better. The chances are that they won’t. I do love reading your messages about how Facebook and Zuckerberg should take these matters seriously, but I can’t help but think your time would be better spent doing something more productive for yourselves or your pages or your fans.

Questions

If you have questions about anything I will try to answer them here. However, trolling in any form has no place here. I am taking a big enough risk just sharing this, I am making preparations with my admin group about a probable deletion, and I don’t expect this blog to stay up indefinitely, though I do believe it has a better chance being on a public forum and search engine crawl-able. We shall see.

If you want to read a real story behind how the underpaid, overworked Facebook moderators feel about your reporting issues, read more here.

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About J Lyn

Joy Lynskey is a freelance copywriter and social media manager. With a focus on social media growth for businesses, Joy has content in many areas of digital branding all over the web. View all posts by J Lyn

61 responses to “Facebook Alienates Secularists and Scientists – One Anonymous Moderators Story

  • Michael

    White text on black background = Intolerable.

  • Daniel Moreau

    Can you recommend a social networking site that secularist can go and not have to deal with Zuckerberg’s greedy priorities.

  • Bruce Gilbert

    How can I help?

    • Joy Lynskey

      Bruce. I suppose the best way to help IS to be ready to email facebook for calls to action like we all did on the Dawkins page issue. If you have a fan page you could also join the group to stay up to date. I often rely on my other group members to help spread important messages and get secular accounts unbanned

  • Renee Montillo

    Free speech is an illusion for the most part. Someone is always offended. As an Atheist, we are not allowed to be offended by religion. Religion is protected. They may post what they like. A gruesome picture of a man hanging on a cross, suffering, offends me. Posting a picture of a dinosaur, which is scientifically proven, can be banned because it offends someone. No reason or logic there!

  • Colin Robinson

    Instead of labelling accounts of stupid people S1, why not delete their accounts? And then only allow people with accounts at least a month old to make complaints?

    • Joy Lynskey

      Wish I could. It’s hard to resist sometimes, but doing so would cost me my position that so far I have been able to use to benefit a lot of secular page owners. It’s not worth the risk because no one is babysitting them on the internet.

  • Denis

    OK so some algorithm decides that I have done something wrong , but I frequently get the generic, “You have posted content that violated FB T&Cs”. I am then directed to read the FB policy.

    Nowhere though does it point to a particular piece of text or image that I have posted and nowhere does it tell me WHICH condition I violated. This is Kafka’s trial !

    How the **** do I find out what I ACTUALLY did ? I sill havent deleted any content – and as far as I can see, nor has FB, my posts and images are still there, so what gives ?

  • Joy Lynskey

    In some cases there is literally no way to find out. Emailing the appeals address is the only way to even notify someone of a problem. It’s a pathetic system.

  • Stephanie Angelis

    What about a post regarding what should be done to lesbians? Feminist India shared it and we’ve tried to get it removed, it is just two girls kissing. However the text says rape them, fuck them, kill ext. HOW is that not offensive and removable content? The response given was photo doesn’t go against community standard, what about inciting violence against women? Anyways that.K’s for what you do and keep up the good work!

    • Joy Lynskey

      It IS offensive and considered removable content, the problem is that without collaborative reporting efforts, those often fall through the cracks in the algorithm that isn’t perfect and Facebook certainly proves they don’t claim it to be as they blame many issues on it’s imperfections. However, with issues like this I highly suggest joining a group and collaborate efforts to report comments/problems like that, en mass. I.E. everyone willing to report it NEEDS to do it in as short a time frame as possible. I’ve been testing this all night with nothing more than regular facebook accounts and help from my admin group and it works nearly every time.

      The last one for example I had 8 people report it all within 16 minutes, within 42 minutes it was removed. The bigger the page, the more report power you are going to need. Reporting CAN be effective, but not when practiced in petty knee jerk reaction style. Get people together, get in an admin group (if you run a page, especially one in a country that requires some confidentiality and security to be observed) then get the support of people who know how to make this pathetic system works weather it wants to or not.

      I am always around to help when and where possible.

      • Stephanie Angelis

        Thanks that is helpful, for next time, it actually got removed after I had responded to their not removing the post. I told them team that I found the post to be offensive and against the community standards as long as groups of people and not just individuals are protected from hate acts. I also mentioned that I would be documenting the lack of response and reporting to authorities if it remained because it was encouraging illegal activities such as murder along with supporting the rape culture in the US. Thanks again for your suggestions I appreciate what you’re doing!

    • Jason Pike

      Yeah, exactly, because no-one ever read your complaint. there would have to be an organised campaign against the page where it originated, if you could find that, but the post would remain in circulation.

  • Lindy Clarke Hall

    Oops, I have been reporting Spams on threads, thought I was helping…. but if it just adds to your workload, I’ll stop.
    This was illuminating… the apathy toward FB participants vs greed for the advertizing money… had not even occurred to me… and I’m not normally naive.
    I would be happy to help you, or any secular group, by posting info as your anonymous proxy, using my name or some other you may choose. I seldom check my email, but a suitably obtuse FB message would initiate this.
    I thank you soo much for taking this risk.

    • Joy Lynskey

      Don’t feel bad Lindy. I realized that a lot of people really believed that and I know a lot of people don’t care. I really did write this for both sets, Facebook reporting DOES work as I shared with a commenter above, but it’s often hard to make it work when the reports come in so maddeningly quickly, which means even reports about the same issue, sent hours apart, go mostly unnoticed.

      We can always use a good helping hand too. I will look for you on Facebook.

      • Yep, one more for you

        I will admit. I mark a lot of stuff as spam. Its not religious/secular related, Its because the bloody system now looks at You like this, and this, so ill now forward you EVERY SINGLE RELATED thing. So you block one page. And they keep coming. Then you block the other page. And they keep coming. Where im from, thats actually against the law. “Any form of unrequested or unsolicited electronic communication”

        With what has been going on with Vodafone and a couple of other companies here, it wont be long before Facebook and Zuckerberd end up in a class action suit themselves for breaking anti-spam legislation…

  • Jody Brown

    Fun to be ‘backstage’ at FB for a few minutes.

  • Susan Delgado

    I put a special note “S1″ on the accounts of people who deny dinosaurs or claimed they were buried by satan. S1 isn’t really fancy, it just stands for Stupid One. This alerts other moderators to the fact that they can then begin pointing and laughing at your profile.

    Today you laugh at their profile, tomorrow they’ll burn you for your views. It’s a new-old kind of religious dictatorship we are heading into.

  • Andrew

    It infuriates me to no end when someone reports a FB page, or a FB post just because they’re “offended” by it, when such page or post is not really bigoted in any way, or not degrading any particular group of people. Can I help in any way?

    • Joy Lynskey

      I’ve always thought that if Facebook would post to someone’s feed “_____ just reported _____ image on _____ page” I bet that nonsense would go down to about 10k per hour.

      • Andrew

        Seriously though. Is there anything I can start doing NOW to help weed out the bawling losers who report for all the wrong reasons?

      • Blair Burroughs

        Best. Idea. Ever. Well, proportionally not, but all sorts of other lizard-brain-level “activity” is supposedly worth mentioning to all your friend/follow connections’ newsfeeds… why not what a little whiny baby you are with your “this offends me” clicks too?

  • Joy Lynskey

    Do you have a Facebook fan page or help moderate one? We are doing a lot of things in our group right now to test the system. It would be stupid to say more here. You can always add me on Facebook. My account there is more secure than wordpress 🙂

    • Andrew

      No, I do not have a FB fan page of my own, nor do I currently help moderate one. I’m Andrew Roling on Facebook with my personal page though – contact me (referring to this blog so I know who it is) and I can add you then.

  • simon

    I’m guessing the religious types are more likely to click ads and be fooled into buying the crap people are selling on fb…

    time to move to Google+ they seam to celebrate Atheism…

  • Qua

    I’ve always hated facebook and never wanted to have to use it, but everyone went there and they wont leave. It drives me fucking insane.
    I honestly and truly hope it dies sometime soon and either Google+ or a better, more customizable and better run network take it’s place. Honestly…I miss myspace. I know a lot of people find that silly, but it was better, at least in my opinion. There seemed to be a lot more freedom, and people weren’t as big of assholes, in fact people bothered to read my blog and people were more friendly and actually sociable, not just sharing pointless status updates that nobody gives a crap about and playing apps, and spending a bunch of time trolling people. (plus…you could post .gifs, which is something I do not, for the life of me, understand why the hell facebook doesn’t do)
    I honestly and wholeheartedly wish with every fiber of my being that not only was I not completely disabled and sick, but that I had the capacity and knowledge to create one myself. I would in a heartbeat.

  • Juan (@xdracco)

    just one more reason that I’m glad I deleted my account. you don’t /NEED/ Facebook as much as Facebook /NEEDS/ you.

  • Facebook Alienates Secularists and Scientists – One Anonymous Moderators Story | exoraluna

    […] Facebook Alienates Secularists and Scientists – One Anonymous Moderators Story. […]

  • Nel

    If this is true then why does Facebook suspend people’s pages for making the most trivial of ‘offensive’ comments?

  • Tom Bryant

    As a Christian, and a person who is both a scholar of Religion and who hosts a page on FB relating to Biblical Archeology and Textual Studies (Biblical Scholars Clearinghouse), I’d be interested if any Christian, Jewish, Muslim or other religious group hosting a page has had simular experiences. It may not be limited to secular groups as much as those most likely to generate ad revenue, as you seem to state in the article.

    It does seem that hosting a group/page tends to attract a few whackos – just as the quotes you’ve aggregated from believers I’ve turned a few of the more stupid secularist quotes over to JP Holding’s monthly “Dumb Quote” contest on Theologyweb. I guess the bad guys make it hard on the good guys everywhere…

    Interesting article.

    • Jason Pike

      I wouldn’t be surprsied if they suffered the same treatement. For some reason, people who want to spread religious hatred seem to be disproportionately active on the internet.

    • Yep, one more for you

      As someone who has zero issue with religion, what i notice, is that it isnt at all the mainstream religious, its the douchebag, non thinking, hyperevangelical, stand on a pile of bibles and bible bash literal creationists that just plain refuse to shut up. Theyre an extremely loud, obnoxious tiny, minority that seem to be able to get away with more and more and its starting to seep out further now.

  • Jason Pike

    People’s personal accounts get the same treatment, except that then you are less likely to know why. If I mention it to friends, often they say, “Oh yes, that happened to me too.” In other words, the system that’s supposed to protect us from harrassment is the biggest source of harrassment on Facebook. But if you report hate speech that might inciote murder, usually no action gets taken. in fact anyone who runs any kind of non-personal page will get thousands of tese sorts of comments written all over it. If censorship doesn’t work, why impose it on innocent people? It seems that it’s not how much harm someone’s doing but how well they can play the system that counts.

  • Patricia Delaney

    I along with others reported a page that was collecting the names and details of atheists from Islamic countries so that they could report them to the authorities.and as a person I know was on that list I joined those reporting. These folk were risking being beheaded or imprisoned. I gave a detailed explanation of what was going on as did others and my message back was they did not see anything wrong with the page. I gather some christians answered the message

  • Truthful Nacho

    Zuckerberg is a loser who said he started fb to get laid. Predator much? Is it in fact, him writing this vewy article? Is it his closest bromance bro? Either way, it’s boring and condescending blah blah blah.

    Facebook is going to soon be taken over by woman-friendly folks. I give it a year before there’s a class action lawsuit? Radfems have been taking over certain facebook pages, so someone respectable will get her hands on the site itself next I imagine.

    Nice “people bitchin” filled with geometric avatars.

  • thecategoricalhousewife

    No surprise there. Oh Gee Golly, we should care about possible religious unrest! See people are so brainwashed everything is about religion for them.

  • dssd

    What other contractor can say they were involved in the design process of an all-electric service vehicle? Not many! Robichaud is a great example of a contractor on the cutting-edge of technology. google

  • gamestarmechanics

    What other specialist can say they were engaged in the style and style procedure for an all-electric support vehicle? Not many! Robichaud is an excellent example of a specialist on the cutting-edge of technological innovation.Google

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