The El Paso News is committed to freedom of expression. Such venues as this blog are more important today than they were just a few years ago, as social networking platforms become more censorious than a small town’s watchdogs on the contents of libraries.
Around 3:00 am, a fit of insomnia had me hanging out on Facebook reading poetry and news. As I attempted to share a post about Harper Lee, I was suddenly unable to add a comment crediting the source of the link. Immediately a screen flashed up, informing me that I am banned from unspecified actions in Facebook.
I clicked on “let us know” and was informed that such actions had to be taken “to keep Facebook safe.”
Despite the unabashed admission Facebook does not read such responses, I filled in my complaint that their action was nuts considering I had just shared a post about Harper Lee, the author of the now universally acclaimed roman a clef, To Kill A Mockingbird. For added umph, I mentioned that I had just posted a painting of the Virgin Mary.
I tried to upload the screen captures that I am using to illustrate my writing here, but received the same notice of restricted use. I tried”liking” and commenting on posts by others, and was continually blocked. I finally got a notice that I had been reported as posting offensive material.
The only thing I was permitted to do, after having be completely knocked off the site and Messenger and forced to sign back on, was upload new profile and cover pictures. I used two of the screen captured images, in protest, and to alert my friends and followers as to why I was being unresponsive to their posts and comments.
Facebook has infamously refused to limit the posting of false and misleading videos and propaganda by Holocaust deniers. Its owner, Mark Zuckerberg, who enjoys tete-a-tetes with Donald Trump and cozies up to the G.O.P., seems culturally ignorant, as do his unnamed and largely invisible enforcers. This is not the first time I’ve been put in what is commonly referred to as “Facebook jail.” I’ve not kept count but I believe this to be about the fifth time my posts of visual art or political commentary, or my many active responses to my many well-informed friends, have triggeted bans. This is the first time, however, I have a public venue dedicated to free speech in which to complain. Here is my complaint. I encourage you to post this essay or your own comments on Facebook and other platforms to publicize the spread of suppression of art, just one more goosestep forward in our apparent march to corporate-enforced mind control in a world where art is censored and political dissent is being criminalized.