An Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg:

While we can appreciate your need to ‘protect’ the public from ne’er-do-wells, political deception, covert Russian spies, things that could potentially be found ‘obscene or offensive’, round-earthers, and aliens from planet Zenon, I do believe you’ve gone a bit too far with some of the inane rules you’ve set forth on Facebook. (I’m beginning to believe that the same people who handle Amazon’s customer complaints are the same people who run Facebook’s customer complaint department. Because nothing either company does makes a damned bit of sense.) 

I know what I am about to say will sound a bit ‘cliche’, but here goes: This is America. And in America, people are considered innocent until proven guilty. But that message apparently has not yet reached you or those individuals working for you.

I’m not even certain you are aware of some of the things that happen on Facebook. I’ll give you a run down on one item in particular: reporting profiles.

  1. It takes absolutely ZERO evidence to ‘report’ an individual on Facebook for ‘impersonation, violent behavior, objectionable content, etc.’ All I need to is report it using your ‘community guidelines’. 
  2. But once an account has been reported it can be frozen and suspended without any form of due process. When that happens, your requirements to get a profile reinstated are, to say the least, ridiculous. 

This business of ‘reporting’ someone is getting way out of hand. All that need happen is for someone on FB to ‘offend’ me, and with one click of my mouse, I can ‘report’ them to the FB police. That is all I need to do. One. Little. Click. But this scenario ONLY works for individuals on FB, not the thousands and thousands of ‘group pages’. ONLY the individual profiles.

Currently, there is an individual on Facebook who has numerous profiles. He’s pretty smart and knows how to manipulate his IP address. Apparently, this person, let’s call him Dylan C, has got a bee in his bonnet and is very upset over something that happened three years ago. He can’t seem to let go of this innocuous comment made on some post that no one can even find now. So, he has targeted the individual who made that innocuous comment. Let’s call her Samantha. Samantha is an author.

In the past six months, Dylan C has ‘reported’ Samantha’s profile no less than six times. Twice now, he has been successful in getting her profile suspended for ‘impersonating’ herself. Each time, Samantha has had to provide as much information as she’d need if she were trying to get a job with the FBI. Such as documentation from: the IRS, US Copyright office, the RWA and NINC – both internationally recognized organizations. She must also provide her birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, banking information, and a photo of herself HOLDING that information, and anything else that proves she is who she says she is. At this point, the only thing that hasn’t been requested from her is a urine sample and DNA swab.

The images Samantha sent to the Facebook police per their request were rejected because they couldn’t “read the information” that was clearly visible on the documents. Then, after being told three times to take an even clearer picture, which was virtually impossible, Samantha voiced her frustration and asked specifically what they couldn’t read in the image. At that point, FB stopped ALL communication with her.   

Now here is where is gets reallycrazy: DylanC has begun to report other authors who have similar names as the original Samantha. He’s also begun to report profile pages of some individuals who have commented on the original Samantha’s FB posts. 

Enter Samantha B., an author. Samantha B. has no idea who DylanC is. She’s never heard of him and as far as she knows, she’s never had any kind of interaction with this person on Facebook. But DylanC, in his kindergarten-esque tirade, has reported Samantha B. for impersonating the original Samantha.

Now, Samantha B. has to provide all the same information as original Samantha just to prove she is who she says she is.

Samantha and Samantha B., are authors. They have author profiles as well as their personal profiles, a practice quite common amongst authors. Both women are, to say the least, quite upset, as is the rest of the author community.

In America, the burden of proof lies with the state. The state (the accuser) must prove the defendant’s (the accused’s) guilt. The defendant does not have to prove his or her innocence. 

Yet, in the world of Facebook, it is the exact opposite. I do not have to ‘prove’ anything in order to report someone. All I need do is make the claim. This is very reminiscent of Nazi Germany back in the day. (Yes, I said it.) But the person I’m ‘reporting’ has to jump through more hoops than a circus lion in order to prove their innocence. It can take days, if not weeks, to get it all sorted out.

There is something inherently wrong with this picture and your rules.

Perhaps the next time you’re getting a seaweed-wrap and massage while you sip a non-fat soy, two-pump, caramel mocha latte with sugar free whip, you could take a moment to read the Constitution and perhaps a few letters from authors who are quite angry with all the nonsense we have to put up with at Facebook and idiots like Dylan C.

I’ll save my thoughts on the dozens of “Download Free PDF’s and ebooks” groups on Facebook who share thousands upon thousands of stolen/pirated ebooks with each other or the hoops we authors have to go through to get an ad approved, for another time.

Offendedly yours,

Suzan Tisdale – Author