Online community lifecycles and my de-platforming from Facebook

9 mins read

I was recently deactivated from Facebook. Not suspended for a few days or weeks — literally deleted.

My high crime that warranted being de-platformed?

In the wake of the election aftermath, lots of rumors have been flying around about the efficacy of the electoral process and results. In fact, do we actually know who is President yet via the Constitutional rule of law-based process?

(as opposed to the un-Constitutional declaration of a winner via market efforts by corporate media conglomerates)

A lot of the election protestations via social have been labeled as “conspiracy theory” at even the most extreme levels like Q, which was banned from Facebook along with 3% militia types and even sitting Libertarian Party communications directors and official Libertarian Party groups.

I made a morning post that included a link to a PDF document resource from the CISA (cisa.gov), the United States Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency.

You know, like a real, bonafide Federal Government Agency.

The PDF shows watermarking of physical ballots as a recommendation, even though state and local governments actually print the physical ballots under the election boards and Secretaries of State.

This resource is linked to under a wider umbrella of Rumor Control resources published by the agency.

My Facebook post was removed several hours later with a notice from Facebook that it was spreading potentially harmful information. Linking directly to a U.S. Government website is “spreading harmful information” in 2020’s topsy-turvy, upside down world.

Then later that evening, I was sitting on my couch chilling out with the kids when my mobile popped up an alert that I needed to re-authenticate my Facebook account. Upon logging in, I was presented with a “This account has been deactivated” message with a link to support wherein I could appeal the decision by uploading a photo of my government ID — which I did and have yet to hear anything from Facebook.

Call me a cynic, but I’m not particularly optimistic.

I guess I have been relegated to the ranks of people like Alex Jones and such…

But other than a couple of minor exceptions, I’m not necessarily all that upset about this.

I would’ve certainly appreciated the opportunity to download an archive of my decade long body of work.

I would have also appreciated the opportunity to nominate replacement admins for pages and groups that were deleted and orphaned.

In fact, any offboarding process could easily be created to automate these things as a halfway cordial send off. Not necessarily any reason to create enemies, yet that’s precisely what Facebook is doing. This guy seems pretty salty…

And this commentator…

Now the irony here is that I’d already been thinking for a while about the various implications of shutting down my Facebook account anyway. In retrospect, I’m sort of surprised I made it 11 years. If Facebook indeed went on an ideological purge, I’ve got a decade worth of Libertarian, small government, Austrian economics expression for them to draw from — all the way back to me posting Ron Paul memes.

I submit the following as evidence to my depravity:

Sick.

Vile.

Twisted.

Plus there was evidence that I’d used the platform to engage in highly successful operations involving grassroots political efforts to promote and enforce individual rights including the 2nd Amendment. I think they hate it when people figure out how to do things like that.

So given the well-documented issues with Facebook’s subcontracted moderators, any drug addled, sex crazed subcontracted moderator trying to enforce some policy could go through my decade of content and determine that I’m probably not their target audience any longer.

Facebook's moderators sex, drugs & depravity

I get it. Seriously.

See, one of the things I’ve got a lot more experience in than most is building and running “digital communities.”

I’ve run them since sysop chats on mainframe networks. By the time Facebook came along, the concept of an extemporaneous community of people connected via digital technology had already been through several lifecycles of evolution and maturation.

  • Sysop chat on mainframe
  • Telnet
  • Dial-up BBS (Wildcat, telephony)
  • Dial-up Email Services
  • Dial-up Networks (Compuserve, AOL, etc…)
  • NNTP
  • WAIS
  • Novell Terminal Chat
  • Internet / WWW
  • Website-centric Discussion Forum sites
  • 6 Degrees / MySpace
  • Mobile SMS Text
  • Mobile Responsive “Web 2.0”

And then finally… “Social Media”

The major social media networks are a product of the expansion of the mobile device market and adoption. LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook caught a particular wave that created the influx of mass consumer users to drive growth. For the first time in history, a hand held consumer computing device was powerful enough to run social apps 0n top of communication networks and protocols.

It was literally that expansion that created the major networks, not because they’d invented anything new or novel.

And quite frankly, if anyone could do anything to curb the advance of social media platform power, it’s the mobile networks. I’m surprised they haven’t already made those moves considering they’ve previously rattled the sabre at other high bandwidth consumption sites like Netflix.

So as we’ve traversed this path of advancing technology powering human communication and communities, there’s another dynamic that I’ve observed — the cyclical centralization and decentralization of the communities themselves.

Sysop chats were centralized on the primary mainframe cluster. You had to physically be connected to the system via a hard wired terminal. Then Telnet came along and changed this around. People could access remote computer installations. Dial-up BBS services were centralized until other replication schemes came along to create a wide network of BBS systems. Compuserve and AOL were highly centralized, but the web came along and decentralized content and interaction.

phpBB and other discussion forum websites popped up all over the internet. There was a plethora of topic-specific destinations and communities for every conceivable niche. These ruled for almost a decade until the Web 2.0 mobile social wave hit.

Of course, social media sites like Facebook & Twitter became the modern iteration of Compuserve and AOL — and will likely go the same way they’ve gone as we’re now seeing a migration away from the legacy social media networks to specialized, demographic and topic specific platforms.

As decentralization themes make their way into other areas of computing like sovereign identity and information governance, I expect fewer people to tolerate the Goderator attitudes that blew apart many other communities long before Facebook caught the mobile wave.

There’s literally nothing new here, including the demise of legacy community platforms.

So no, I’m not really all that concerned about being dismissed from the Zuckerborg. It has actually been fairly inspiring as I delve into the myriad of newer, niche communities that continue to thrive outside of the walled garden. I realize I got lazy, gave them they keys of ownership of my own content. Not happening again!

Tom, we miss you.

 

 

 

Michael Hiles

CEO 10XTS, INTJ, chaotic good, PDP/11 in '79 (THAT kid), info architect, Milton Friedman, data science, semantics, epistemology, coffee snob, OG hip hop

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