Monday, January 8, 2018

Still Not Shutting Up

Pexels - CC0 license
Like many writers, I am active on Facebook writing groups, where I post links to my blog posts about writing resources. Yesterday, Facebook suddenly deleted every one of the links to my blog. I was thrown in Facebook jail.

I believed it was some kind of glitch, a change in their algorithms. Much to my surprise, it turns out my confinement was not due to some automated Facebook glitch, but to someone reporting my blog as "harmful."

I have to say I find myself incredulous. My blog is completely innocuous. It's about publishing, and how to get published. My posts are not political, not controversial. And I am certainly not famous. Why would anyone report me? But in the blog's description at the top of the page, I have included a statement that in the interests of protecting the First Amendment - which, as a writer, I take very seriously - I did not vote for Trump, who is notoriously anti-free press.

Of course, on my personal Facebook page, I am intensely political. I'm not a big fan of Nazis or the KKK, or of anyone they support. Any movement towards an autocracy or, in this case, a kleptocracy, is something I vigorously oppose. I have always been critical of both political parties, and of our presidents. I reserve my fandom for the Constitution.

A brief stint in Facebook jail is not a big thing. It's just a temporary hitch. But the fact that someone would go out of their way to target my blog - something so small, so innocent, so inconsequential - is an indication of the mentality driving this climate of authoritarianism.

I say this as a writer and as a responsible citizen: Harassment of individuals simply because they are critical of the government, no matter who is currently in power, should not be tolerated. It is a slippery slope, and one that only leads to the bottom. 

I am not going to remove that simple sentence - that short declaration of support for the First Amendment - from my blog description. In spite of more than a few comments ranging from insults ("You are a stupid bitch") to outright threats, that statement will stay right where it is. And no amount of harassment will induce me to remove it. To do so would be a surrender, if only a very small one, to the very forces that are diminishing the principles that lie at the heart of a representative democracy.



UPDATE: This blog continues to be reported once or twice a week for "abusive content." It is ironic that censorship should be a consequence of supporting free speech, but there you have it.

17 comments:

  1. Kudos to you, Erica and keep up the good work.

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  2. Wow! You have taken it on the chin very well, Erica!
    You are strong. And that is why I have been following you for so long. I certainly appreciate all the time and work you put into helping us. You have a lot of people standing, not behind you, but with you.

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  3. I would say we probably disagree very much politically, I am more a Libertarian Conservative, but I am glad we can find common ground on the importance of the First Amendment. Keep up the good work and never give an inch. I am sure you’ll find plenty of allies on the right and the left.

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    1. Disagreement is never the problem. I have disagreed with everyone, including myself, at one point or another. Debate is a requirement in a democracy. The problem is when that debate is stifled, when the president claims "absolute authority," when his supporters take active measures to squelch criticism. My hope is that Americans will remain as unherdable as cats. Let us always argue with one another, let us always hone our arguments, and let us change our views when need be. This is what I want Americans to be like: Contentious, rambunctious, unafraid.

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    2. This post explains a lot. I often attempt to share your blog posts on fb because they are some of the most useful tools for writers available, but almost every time Fb flags them as spam and takes them down until I tell them they aren't spam. Pathetic that fb apparently doesn't bother to read any of them.

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  4. Replies
    1. Look at the right side bar. There is a "Follow by email" slot near the top, under my featured post. Just enter your email, and you will get my posts in your inbox.

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  5. Wow. This is important. That's not from someone who just disagrees, it's from someone who wants to shut you up. Glad you're not listening. And shame for those who did this to you.

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  6. Wow. Thank you for writing this post and thank you for sticking to your guns. I will never understand internet trolls. Why spend your time and energy on being hateful? Ugh. Sorry this happened to you and, again, thank you for all your great work.

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  7. Hi, as a UK writer, with fairly radical political views, I absolutely agree with your stance. I, too, am anti-Trump as I am anti-Tory in the UK. We do indeed live in peculiar times, when some anonymous individual can persuade an organisation like FB to suspend the account of someone like you, without first taking a look to see what might be offensive. Mind you, I recently had my Author page on FB closed down because I was apparently posting spam. It turned out the 'spam' in reference was my own post, on my own blog, about my own writing progress. Now, I thought that's what Author pages on FB were all about, but, hey-ho. Anyway, once I'd contacted them, to their credit, they did reinstate the page at once. But weird, no? Keep up the fight for freedom of speech. I've posted links to this post on Twitter and on my FB Author page, in solidarity.

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  8. Unbelievable!! just unbelievable!!! My reaction to this action against you borders on extreme - so I went outside and screamed to the world. Why the hell would anyone put our Constitutional protection of Free Speech aside, just to push their agenda onto another person?

    You have helped so many people. I have clients who have connected with agents from your generous, excellent -- and FREE -- information.

    You are fine. You do good things.
    The people who feel driven to judge and destroy and create discord, and who live in a fabrication of reality, need to spend less time convincing themselves they are saving humanity one nasty action at a time, and more time volunteering to help people who are struggling to stay alive.

    Excuse me while I go outside and scream again...

    Stay strong. We're with you!!

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  9. I feel your pain. My blog got put in FB jail for six months because some creep reported it as "spam." I still don't know the motivation. My books were bestsellers at the time, and maybe this was a writer who thought they'd sell better if they "got rid" of me. Or maybe it was just because my blog had a better Alexa rating than theirs. (You have some very good numbers, BTW, for a "little blog". You're at around 500K, when most author blogs are in the millions. The lower the better.) The problem is that one complaint, regardless of merit, can get an innocent person punished. Something is very wrong with this system. Hang in there and thanks for standing up for the 1st Amendment!

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  10. Good for you! I'm sorry you've had to deal with insults and threats. That's unacceptable. I use your blog EVERY MONTH to find work as a writer. Thank you for all that you do!

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  11. That's awful what they did to you! Well, you know what they say: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I thought you might be interested, though, in some things Thomas Jefferson said: "Nothing can now be believed, which is seen in a newspaper." And: "The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed, than he who reads them, inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors." And in 1806 he said, "Oh, for what is not true, you will always find abundance in the newspaper." Sound familiar? It's not that President Trump is anti-free press, than he is ant-fabricated press, which is far deadlier, I believe. And Jefferson's fears echo down through the centuries! Absolute power. Scary. Love your website!!!!

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    1. Since we are quoting Jefferson, he also said "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." Jefferson's complaint was not with the free press, which he supported, but with the press being used as a partisan tool. Trump's attacks on the press are strangely absent when it comes to press that favors him (Fox news) and are reserved only for press that is critical of him. I believe Jefferson would have nothing kind to say about Trump's attacks on the press.

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  12. Thought you would like to know...

    I shared this on Facebook a few days ago. FB called it spam and removed it. I think you have a war on your hands.

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