Facebook Jail

star-Facebook-jai_150lfacebook_unlikeFree Barry Shaw
Campaign for FB transparency

Most Israel advocates have been temporarily banned from Facebook, so-called Facebook jail (for the Irish and Australians amongst us – Facebook gaol), at some time. Five Minutes for Israel is no exception. We don’t believe anyone has ever been given a clear explanation for the punishment and despite the link on the notice (see below) there is no real opportunity for appeal. If you think you are seeing this message by mistake, you may relieve your tension by clicking a link.

You will still not know what crime you have committed; confront your accuser or be able to make a defence. No natural justice in Facebook.

Five Minutes for Israel supports Israeli author and campaigner, Barry Shaw (also a personal friend) in his campaign for release from ‘Facebook Jail’. We hope that it may lead to a more transparent social media.

You have been blocked!

  1. Join the campaign to get Facebook to release BARRY SHAW from Facebook jail.
  2. Photograph yourself with this sign, post it on Barry’s and your Facebook page, and share with all your contacts.
  3. Let’s keep it going until Facebook release Barry.
Barry Shaw

Click for higher resolution

Throwing the book at them

By now most Israel advocates have heard about Shurat HaDin’s experiment. They created ‘identical’ fictitious Facebook groups, one with pro Israel ‘hate speech’ balanced by one with equally offensive pro Palestinian claims†; reported them and then waited.

As expected the anti Palestine page was immediately removed as offensive to Facebook Community Standards and the anti Israel one remained online. It is far from delusional that the same double standard was applied to Barry.

It’s not that Facebook doesn’t have warnings designed as they say to make people to feel safe when using Facebook. Theoretically they remove content that expresses support for groups that are involved in the violent or criminal behavior mentioned above. Supporting or praising leaders of those same organizations, or condoning their violent activities, is not allowed. That includes terrorism.

Unfortunately this is pap. If support for Hamas, a terrorist group proscribed by dozens of states and organisations are not terrorists what is? Facebook owes us an answer.

Similarly Facebook claims it removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on various characteristics:

  • Race,
  • Ethnicity, unless in our experience that happens to be Jewish, particularly Ashkenazi (i.e. European) Jewish,
  • National origin, unless in our experience that happens to be Israel,
  • Religious affiliation, unless in our experience that happens to be Jewish,
  • Sexual orientation,
  • Sex, gender, or gender identity, or
  • Serious disabilities or diseases.

But you are never told specifically what is the hate speech you are banned for. We accept that as a private corporation Facebook can be judge, jury and executioner. Perhaps that is inevitable but why does it never publish the verdict?

Appointing a Facebook Ombudsman would remove the Star Chamber appearance of these proceedings.

Hidden charges that will land you in jail

Could we be paranoid and the ban technical rather than political?

If there is fine print warning about this I haven’t found it but I know from personal experience that if you post too quickly to multiple groups you will be banned.

Various applications supposedly will save you the drudgery of sharing your posts individually. My choice was Hootsuite which promised (for a price) to allow fifty shares in one action. That was apparently too much for Facebook. Reducing to ten at one go didn’t help.

I haven’t discovered whether this is simply Facebook attacking Hootsuite, a rival to it’s own tools or not. They would probably describe it as protecting against spam but at the same time they encourage businesses to use Facebook. I sense a contradiction here.

Similarly you might note the appearance of asterisks with certain words in our Facebook posts. It’s not that we are prudish or unwilling to call a spade a spade.

I strongly suspect that Facebook has an algorithm searching for ‘offensive’ key-words. I had personal experience once being banned for a misplaced word, which in context was not offensive. I was discussing the word,

Ironic if Barry was banned by a computer and not a person, even a highly biased person.

Facebook P.A.C.!

Under US campaign finance law, Facebook (like all corporations) is prohibited from donating directly to federal political candidates. Since many Facebook employees wish to support federal candidates who share their goal of making the world more open and connected, we formed Facebook, Inc. PAC (FBPAC) in 2011.

Facebook Political Engagement, September 5, 2014

Hmmmmm! Allow me to express my scepticism at ‘this’ example of Facebook’s generosity to their employees.

Health plan, free food and paternity leave I can relate to as perks of working for Facebook. Political Action Committee? Seems to me a legal way to avoid the formal prohibition on donating directly to federal political candidates.

Might even offend their Community Standards and lead to Facebook Jail!

A selfie by Five Minutes for Israel.

A selfie by Five Minutes for Israel.

Extra credit


† We really need to find a replacement for ‘pro Palestinian’. Supporting losing wars and forcing Israeli businesses employing hundreds of Arabs from the territories out of work is hardly pro their interests.

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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