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Mark Zuckerberg

The claim that Facebook helped Trump win the presidency is pretty lame. People make their choices. Did the Trump campaign buy a lot of ads on Facebook? Yes. That’s what Facebook is, an advertising platform. It’s a corporation. It sells ads to return profits to owners. That’s how our economic system works. It makes no sense to blame Facebook for exploiting it well.

What is really stupid and annoying about Facebook is that they have zero concept of context or due process. Everyone there is stuck in overeager undergraduate mode, zealous to penalize everything that anyone might see as a slight, no matter how stupid and trivial. They cannot even deal with naked female breasts! Oh, my! It’s like Posty poring over an issue of National Geographic. Never mind that such images can be useful in helping people understand breast cancer — context means nothing.

This is the reductive, simplistic reading skills of a college freshman, newly out of high school and his parents watchful eyes, eager to prove himself in a new intellectual terrain, but still lacking in the minimum training in reading comprehension and critical thinking necessary to make intelligent decisions about images and texts and meaning. Pretty pathetic.

Due process is a legal concept that technically only applies to government, but it reflects our society’s basic commitment to fairness and it is not unreasonable to expect a behemoth like Facebook to understand and abide by the idea.

Due process includes the right to have any authority explain to you the details of any alleged offense — if a prosecutor plans to prosecute you in the United States, they need to state clearly exactly what rule you have broken and the exact conduct that constituted the breach. You also have a right to a hearing, at which you have the option of pleading guilty or demanding a trial.

This is all beyond the sophomoric ken of Facebook. As with the social cliques of high school, much less college, once the chief mean girl or boy decides they don’t like you, you are persona non grata, never to be recognized by the royal bee again.

So, Facebook bans people suddenly, without notice, and with no opportunity for a hearing. They offer a notional option for appeal, sometimes, but not always. How they decide who gets to appeal and who doesn’t is entirely opaque. Apparently it depends entirely on which pimply college kid happens to squeal at your alleged offense.

Less than a ban, but you may not know that Facebook will sometimes prevent users from sharing for limited period of time for “going too fast.” They provide an appeal process with this idiotic chastisement, but they never respond to any message they receive through it. Nor do they explain how fast is too fast, or how they measure “too fast.”

For anyone who has any understanding of due process, this is stupid and annoying. One has to wonder how the chief pimply college kids at Facebook could be so stunningly obtuse as not to realize that the principles of due process are very important in our society, to the extent that the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees due process to all “persons.”

People allow Facebook to have varying degrees of importance in their lives, but no one will die without Facebook. It is high time that we all just cancel Facebook and see if a sudden drop in usage induces the pimply boys in charge to think more carefully about how they run their business.

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Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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