Facebook's dishonest suppression of criticism raised its ugly head again today. But before I tell you about that, let's start from the beginning.
On the 4th of July, 2019. I declared independence from Facebook. After months of meticulously detailing their seemingly endless history of ethical lapses, I declared that I would stop using Facebook out of protest and I encouraged everyone else to do the same. I also swore off Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. I replaced Facebook with Google Photos, of all things. A tiny percentage of my family and friends engages with my pictures there.
I inspired a few people to follow me out. But, for the most part, most people don't care about hardcore immorality by social media companies. That was true of Facebook in 2019 and true of Twitter today.
And so the net effect was that I just lost contact with half my family and friends, who use Meta-owned social products exclusively.
My plan was not to delete my account. The best practice for exiting Facebook was at the time to deactivate, rather than cancel, one's account, then revisit the site once a year to re-activate, then re-de-activate. The reason for this was to retain ownership of the account to prevent identity theft -- so somebody else couldn't start an account with my name, my picture and start interacting with my family and friends as me as part of some scam.
A year went by, and I returned to Facebook to perform the whole de-activate, re-activate charade. Facebook demanded proof of identity, including uploading my passport and driver's license.
I did that. Then crickets.
I uploaded again. Then nothing.
A friend of mine was a senior AI engineer who worked at Facebook. And he told me they have a process inside the company where an employee can vouch for a user who needs extra special tech support. So together we went through their process to verify. And, again, they ghosted me. No response.
As a result, Facebook took control of my old account and blocked me from accessing it in any way.
Yada, yada, yada -- Meta announces a new Twitter like adjunct to Instagram that supposed to connect to the "Mastodon" fediverse somehow. I wanted to test it out (it launches in June, according to disreputable sources).
So I went into my neglected Instagram account, followed a few people, posted my third-ever post (a picture of Amira and me standing in a Oaxaca Valley agave field).
Facebook locked me out, falsely claiming I had violated their Community Guidelines, and to dispute the charge I had to verify my identity. I requested a code by email, which they sent. Then they demanded a verification by phone, which they did not send. And that's the shadowban.
It's clear to me that in all cases, the way Meta keeps critics of the company off their services is they demand verification, then they ghost you, never responding to your activities. You can't verify. You can't get in. They won't return your messages. You're out.
The most ethical thing for Facebook to do is to allow critics of Meta to use their social sites. All other social networks allow this. The second most ethical thing would be to ban us critics, but man up and admit it to our faces. Just say you're banning us because you don't like criticism.
But the least ethical thing is to break authentication, then ghost. It's such a spineless, weaselish way to suppress critics. And it's one of the hundreds of ugly, no-good bad things about Meta.