The following commentary came about as a result of a short exchange I had with another Facebook user who was having difficulty posting messages on their timeline, and sending private text messages as well. Despite my attempt to help this person understand what might really be going on, they remained convinced that they were being attacked and punished by Facebook because they were boldly sharing their Christian faith on their timeline.
Furthermore, this person apparently took offense at my comments, and indirectly suggested that if I had not been in “Facebook Prison” at least a few times — as they had — then I must not be a very bold witness of my faith on Facebook. Their comment came across as being a bit self-righteous, but I was not about to engage in a debate with this person. It is simply not my modus operandi.
What is odd about their response is that in my lengthy comment to them — the contents of which is contained below — I made clear to them that I had received a slap on the wrist from Facebook a few times. I obviously don’t need to defend my position here. Those of you who have known me for a while, already realize that I don’t preach a watered-down Gospel. I am rather direct and in-your-face about it. In fact, over the almost nine years that I have participated on Facebook, hundreds of people have become offended by what I preach, and have unfriended me. It’s a part of life on Facebook, but you can’t let it rattle you.
But that is beside the point. As I explained to this particular person, I suspected that what was really happening with them was either a technical glitch on Facebook’s end — they happen all the time — or else perhaps they did something — knowingly or unknowingly — which was a violation of Facebook’s TOS — Terms of Service — or which one of their algorithms or filters interpreted as being so-called “suspicious activity”. This could include such things as the following:
1. Sending out too many friend requests too quickly.
2. Copying and pasting the same exact message word-for-word, and privately texting it to too many people.
3. Visiting a lot of people’s timelines, and copying and pasting the same exact message on each of those timelines.
We need to remember that Facebook is heavily automated, and uses a lot of bots, scripts, filters and algorithms to monitor different things. Annoying activities such as the above three will definitely raise a red flag and set off an alarm, resulting in a person getting a slap on the wrist, or as some users like to call it, being sent to “Facebook Jail” for a while.
Regarding raising red flags, let me mention a related point. Like many other companies, Facebook uses spam filters to weed out undesirable posts from its network which meet certain criteria, such as those which clearly contain hate speech, or racism, or which Facebook has deemed to be fake news, for example. As you may already know, due to pressure from the U.S. government and other entities, Facebook is making more of an effort to reduce the amount of fake news on its network. This may have an affect on some of the posts which you are allowed to make.
The way that most spam filters work is by recognizing certain email addresses which are known to be sources of high-volume spam, certain IP addresses which are known to be sources of spam, or certain word patterns which strongly suggest that a post is spam. While some spam filters work very well — I use one with my email client that has a very high accuracy rate — they are nevertheless software, and thus are not perfect. As a result, such filters may occasionally raise what are referred to as “false flags” or “false positives”. A false flag/false positive is when the spam filter identifies something as spam, which really isn’t spam.
Now, because spam filters are not always on target with their detection methods, what this means is that occasionally you may make a perfectly harmless post on Facebook, which Facebook’s spam filters will flag as spam. Maybe the filter saw something suspicious in an external URL that you used; or maybe it detected a certain word pattern in a text message which you posted. Whatever the case may be, because it detected something that it didn’t like, it raised a red flag on your post, even though your post was perfectly innocent in nature.
As I said, this is referred to as a false flag or a false positive. The filter incorrectly classified or identified your status update, and prevented you from posting it. While this may be rather frustrating for you, there really isn’t much that you can do about it, except move on. Just remember that when this happens, it isn’t necessarily because Facebook is singling you out and targeting you because of your Christian beliefs. It simply means that Facebook needs to refine the spam filter that raised the false flag in the first place.
NOTE: One exception to the above might be if you happen to be in the habit of posting content from fake news websites, even though you may not know they are fake news sites. While you personally may feel that the content is true and legitimate, Facebook has the final say in the matter. So, if one of their filters catches it, and stops you, there isn’t much that you can do about it. Let me also add that some of my Christian brethren are not the brightest crayons in the box. I have visited a number of timelines which regularly post fake news from certain websites which I personally would never waste my time on, much less share their content on my timeline.
Now, if you are prevented from making a post, you need to remember that what happens after your post has been flagged as spam, is all an automated process. Usually, you are not dealing with real Facebook employees in most cases, although it may sometimes seem that way. If you are asked certain questions for feedback, or sent a thank you message, or whatever, it is all being conducted by bots, so please don’t get too frustrated. Don’t forget that Facebook has billions of users worldwide, so it cannot possibly have a real human being address every single issue which arises. We are in the technology age, so get used to it.
You also need to remember that if you send something to someone who you really do not know, and with whom you have not established a good rapport, they may consider your post or message annoying, and thus mark it as spam. If Facebook receives enough complaints against you due to your annoying a lot of people, they will take action against you, and it will be your own fault.
Also, you need to realize that the longer you are a part of Facebook, the more likely it is that you will eventually face some kind of punitive measure from Facebook, because you simply cannot control how people will react to your posts, private text messages, comments, etc.
The key is to learn your lesson the first time you make a mistake and are castigated by Facebook, so that it doesn’t happen again. As some of you will already know from your own experiences, each time you make the same mistake, Facebook will slap you harder, and will restrain you from using that particular Facebook feature for a longer period of time.
When I first joined Facebook in early 2011, like many newcomers to social networking, I was a bit ambitious. So I made some of the same common mistakes that everyone makes. I wanted to have lots of friends, and I wanted to preach the Christian Gospel message. It should come as no surprise then that I received a few slaps on the wrist from Facebook until I learned to slow down a bit. Let’s face it. Some of us Christians can be quite enthusiastic when it comes to sharing the Gospel online. So it is not unusual for us to exceed Facebook’s Terms of Service on occasion, and annoy the wrong people.
To continue, over the eight plus years that I have had a presence on Facebook, now and then I have seen some of my Christian brethren making claims that Facebook is censoring their posts, persecuting them, and making it impossible for them to carry on their online life, and be a witness of their Christian faith. Some of them have in fact made the claim that Facebook is attacking and punishing a lot of its Christian users — just like the person I mentioned earlier in this note — just because they are Christians.
Initially, I was a bit skeptical of this claim; the reason being that during the eight years that I have participated on Facebook, I have made thousands of posts, which have included over 4,100 graphics. As I mentioned earlier, anyone who has known me a long time, will know that I preach a rather radical, in-your-face Gospel. I don’t compromise. I tell it like it is. I expose things such as abortion, the gay and lesbian agenda, the ungodly public school system, the corrupt American government, etc. In short, I say a lot of things that liberals and nonbelievers don’t like. Things which upset them. I expose the sins of the ungodly world around us.
Yet, despite the more radical stuff that I posted at times, Facebook never came down on me because of my views. They never persecuted me because of my beliefs. They never prevented me from posting stuff on my timeline, on my page, or in the Bill’s Bible Basics group. So my reasoning at the time was that if Facebook is really after Christians as some of my brethren claim, I would think that they would have stopped me long ago. However, in over eight years, they hadn’t done so.
Well, as some of you will know by now, that suddenly changed in early August of 2019 when I began to repeatedly be confronted with “suspicious activity” alerts on my computer screen, forced to log out, forced to enter a new password, and forced to upload my personal ID multiple times to prove that I am who I say I am. It was crazy. After so many years of peace on Facebook, it just came out of nowhere and caught me by surprise.
Finally, on the evening of October 6, 2019, I was locked out of my Facebook account for reasons which still remain unknown to me, and I remained locked out of my account for a full month. Repeated attempts to get back in again failed. Facebook remained totally silent regarding the issue, and never got in touch with me via email, as the “suspicious activity” screen claimed they would do. So I must wonder if this is how they now keep undesirables off of their network. That is, by locking them out, and then remaining silent.
At any rate, I was finally allowed back into my account on November 7, 2019. However, since November 7th, they have continued to repeatedly lock me out of my account, forced me to change my password, forced me to upload my personal ID, and forced me to jump through all of their security hoops. On top of that, often when this happens, they also remove a dozen or more of my posts from my timeline, FB page and the Bill’s Bible Basics group. Half a day’s work on Facebook is just wiped out, just like that. It is really a waste of my time. To say the least, it has been very annoying, and very disruptive to my Facebook ministry, because when they remove my posts without warning, any comments which were made, or any posts which were shared by my friends are lost. Consider the following:
Facebook Lock-Out Dates
32 days = October 6, 2019 to November 7, 2019
06 days = November 9 to November 15, 2019
02 days = November 19, 2019 to November 21, 2019
03 days = November 23, 2019 to November 26, 2019
02 days = November 26, 2019 to November 28, 2019
01 days = December 14, 2019 to December 15, 2019
There have been a few one-day lockouts since December 15th as well. In fact, I just checked my records, and from July 30, 2019 until today — December 29, 2019 — Facebook has forced me to change my password at least 20 times. Furthermore, I have been forced logged out and/or fully locked out of my account at least 27 times. That kind of harassment would frustrate anyone.
Now, I could do as others have done and immediately attribute these lockouts to Facebook’s bias against conservative and Christian viewpoints, and it could possibly be true. However, in my particular case, I don’t know that for a fact. While I have a few personal theories regarding what may have caused the lockout, I don’t know with any degree of certainty. That is why I refuse to promote the claim that I was ousted because of my Christian beliefs.
The same thing applies to my other Christian brethren who have had problems on Facebook as well. Maybe their problems are due to their position as Christians, and Facebook is harassing them and trying to shut them down. Or maybe, just maybe, such people simply don’t understand what may be going on behind-the-scenes. If we consider that Facebook has billions of users, with servers all around the world, and that those servers are constantly being taxed to the limit by those users, it is surprising that more technical glitches don’t occur. I mean, we are talking about a major, global computer operation here. So many things could go wrong, not to mention the people who try to attack Facebook’s networks from the outside.
Now, if it is not a technical glitch which is causing you problems on your timeline or page — such as a false positive by a bot or algorithm — then maybe you need to honestly consider if perhaps you did something which Facebook didn’t like, and which set off a red flag. You can’t blame Facebook for trying to protect its resources, and its users, when you do something you are not supposed to do. Neither can you blame them if as a result of your actions, you receive a slap on the wrist, or go to jail, as they say.
In conclusion, please don’t be too quick to play the Christian persecution card, before you really understand what is going on. If you made a mistake, learn from it, and then move on. On the other hand, if it truly is persecution because of your faith, then consider this:
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
2 Timothy 3:12, KJV
“And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.”
Acts 5:41, KJV
“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:”
1 Peter 2:19-23, KJV
“Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”
Luke 6:28, KJV
“Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”
Romans 12:17, KJV
“See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.”
1 Thessalonians 5:15, KJV
“Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing . . . But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;”
1 Peter 3:9, 14, KJV
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”
Hebrews 12:14-15, KJV
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
Romans 12:18, KJV
That’s my take regarding this issue. Others may feel differently.