Monday, January 24, 2011

The power that is FACEBOOK

We all know the site, and most of us use it for many networking purposes, be it personal interactions with family and friends, or promotional for our books and creative work. So, imagine the horror when you're in the middle of a conversation and you're asked to login again–then when you try, you get the news–your account has been deactivated. You have been summarily deleted out of existence with no explanation or warning. And while you stare, you receive an email saying you have been deactivated for "misconduct" and that's all you're going to be told!

This is precisely what happened to me last night. Was I shocked? Yes. Horrified and freaked out, honestly. It's a new day, and now I'm just majorly pissed off, I have to admit. See, the powers that be have deemed a report severe enough to have my pages frozen in cyberspace–and whoever pushed the report button doesn't have to prove anything, I do. Is it just me, or is that policy a little bit backward? The internet is an amazing thing, but all this anonymity is giving some strange people a lot of power that they shouldn't possess on a good day, never mind a bad one.

We live in an open world when we enter a public job–and being an author means a huge chunk of your life is out there as public record. How it's perceived is really an unknown quantity, but in many cases I suspect it's highly romanticized for readers and fans of our work. Most of the people who have rallied around me are friends and fellow authors who understand how rocking this is to the promotional end of things we all have to do to make readers aware of our books.

So, here I am a day later, and I've had some time to rethink the whole FB approach, and whether it's even worth it, honestly. It's a bloody retarded site in so many ways, with no real safeguards for anyone in place–adults and/or children alike, yet we've all been programmed to think we need it.... A few years ago it was MySpace that was the be-all and end-all of the social networking world–so in a few years Facebook will be the dinosaur of the trends.... who knows what will take its place?? Ultimately, is this site a help or a hindrance to us? We all know it sucks up huge chunks of time that could be spent somewhere else, and if you do lose your account after two years of hard work–the real kicker is THEY KEEP ALL OF YOUR INFORMATION AND WORK, but you don't have access to it. Isn't that theft of intellectual property?

I don't know about the rest of you, but it seems to me the more we feed this mindset, the more lost we get. Does Facebook really equate with better sales? Or is it a myth that we perpetuate ourselves with our hope that the hard work is benefitting from the time we spend interacting with everyone on social sites? For what it's worth, I don't think so, honestly.

All that said, I do have a new page, and I have no idea if the old ones will be reactivated. I have forged a lot of friendships, and there are a lot of upset people reacting to this deactivation. It is long past time that this site placed some worthwhile constraints on its use, and stopped allowing anyone and everyone to arbitrarily bring about the deletion of months and years of work and networking because they don't like a picture they see, or a post they read. One thing that this site could learn from good old MySpace is the simple little safeguard of allowing you to set a page for "adults" and then you've got a small protection in the fact that if you set it for grown ups then the responsibility is not yours to ensure young minds are not corrupted. Not rocket science, is it?

At the end of the day the real problem is we're all grown ups in this business. At what point in time did we lose the ability to be adult in our approach to others? Why is it necessary to police someone else because you don't like what you see on their pages? If you're there, in most cases, it's because you asked to be. A quick unlike or unfriend will remove the offensive individual from your view. Unless you encounter someone who is spouting the benefits of annihilation or mass murder, or posting truly pornographic material, why assume you have the right to judge what others will find sensual or artistic? We talk about our open society and the freedom of expression–yet we exhibit shocking close-mindedness each time someone is subjected to this kind of attack, don't we?

All this freedom is just pretty words, it seems, because as long as one person is able to hold the power to silence your expression, there is no freedom, and everyone's under the sword. Welcome to the Dark Ages of the CyberWorld...


  1. *hugs* Denyse, I feel your pain in more ways than one. FB in many ways has been great for me, expanding my readership, giving me new outlets, and allowing me to make new friends.

    On the other hand, I've also had to deal with cyber 'trolls', inappropriate comments, and I've actually had to stop contacting some FB 'friends' because they took up too much of my time. Add the drama, interpersonal issues, etc.

    So, I scaled back on my FB usage, keep my friends to the ones who understand what I do and my fans (who are also my friends). All in the awareness that someone might take some kind of offense at something I do or say, and, rather than speak to me about it, report me to FB.

    Valerie Douglas aka V. J. Devereaux

  2. Denyse,

    My dear, perfect words from a great author, who never deserved this mistreatment.

    The fact remains that ultimate power corrupts absolutely. And to place that power in the hands of anyone to cross your path isn't right. Reports can come from anyone, anytime, for any reason. And most, if not all are heeded with consequence to only the victim. I for one know how much work you put into something that was just snuffed out like a candle, taking the light from something that never needed be extinguished.

    And you're completely right. Like computer software, hardware, social sites and just about everything else on the internet is outdated a minute BEFORE it is released to the public. We, as authors, are taught from the time we sign our first contracts, to go with the flow of promotion. To go where the people are, which currently is Facebook. But there are a lot of other places too, and as you mentioned, places with safeguards to protect our efforts.

    In these times, we are all in danger of someone pressing the report button, and at any time, we are just gone, like we never existed. We are then forced to make a decision, weigh the balance: rebuild or find another avenue?

    Perhaps this multi-million dollar corporation needs to stop putting their efforts to changing profile layouts and new applications, and consider the bigger picture, before their reason for being finally gets tired enough to flip them the proverbial finger and move on.



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  4. But you're assuming ALL people are grown up and have the emotional integrity and maturity to deal with life. On the whole, I'd like to believe the majority of people do, but there are - what did you call them Valerie? Cyber-Trolls? who don't understand that these social networking sites are, quite often, a necessary part of promotional activity, and their petty personal issues hurt more than just feelings - they can severely impact a livelihood in the most negative way.
    While I truly believe everyone is responsible FOR their own actions, they also have a responsibility TO other people that their actions do not hurt anyone else.
    This also goes for the 'moderators' of these types of sites; something they all seem to have forgotten.

    It is easy enough to click to the 'block' button, or simply have the self discipline NOT to visit sites you may find offensive, and I really do wonder at the minority who would rather see a good person blasted out of existence than show some self awareness.

  5. There are people who revel in the anonymity the web gives them. You can join any group without revealing your true identity, then do and say anything you want with no repercussions. And for some that includes a lot of cyber trashing of other people. Who knows why they pick a victim. They don't need a reason. Hell, it could be another author who wants to wipe out competition. What does it matter? Facebook apparently doesn't contact the party the complaint is leveled at. They don't say take a picture down or whatever. They just yank it. Why not? They're worth billions and know they're the most powerful thing in the play box right now, so they can do what they want.

  6. Your blog is right on Denyse. It really is a shame that FB cannot just take the time to make the site more "user friendly"

    It truly is a disservice when you as a valued user had a page deactivated because it is material that they don't like.

    I totally agree that they need to stop making things so readily accessible and put in some kind of mechanism where we, as authors, artists, and the like can make some type of warning, like here on blogger. How hard could that possibly be?

  7. You already know how I feel about this whole mess. I do think FB has gotten out of hand. But it has allowed itself to, or we the users have allowed it, perhaps a bit of both.

    I do think there is benefit to be had from it. I've made so many wonderful connections and friends here and I know you have to. I just wish there was better control by FB to protect those of us there to use the system as it was meant to be used. It reminds me of the pirate sites right now where the victim is the one that must prove their rights.

    FB might well make the mistake of deleting the wrong material at some point and find themselves on the other end of a law suit that could turn into a class action one. There needs to be a process, a real one, where complaints as well as appeals are really looked at and in a timely manner.

    FB has already shown it really doesn't care about it's users. How many of us actually wanted our page formats changed? To something that's not as efficient. Or our personal information automatically shared with others unless we manually go in and change the options. Shouldn't that be the other way around?

    But in spite of it all I'm not quite ready to give up my FB page. But I also know the next new thing is around the corner and it might arise because FB is out of control.


  8. It's a little crazy to be tried and hanged without knowing who complained and why. Many of us have had similar experiences in life, although maybe not with FB. Still, everyone should be able to defend themselves and not have their stuff yanked without explanation. Good luck getting it back.

  9. Well reasoned (and polite) explanation. Face Book has taken a troubling turn toward Fascism. I shall support - and follow you - wherever you decide to take your talents.


    Diane nelson


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