In Which My Chronic Illness Blog Gets Banned by Facebook
Did you know that sexuality and chronic illness is now against Facebook’s community standards?
It is alarmingly easy to get blacklisted on social media channels. And once you’re put on the watch list, it is alarmingly difficult to get off it.
I have been on social media for a very long time. It started with my personal account on Facebook years ago and by now I’m also on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and StumbleUpon. I also manage several pages on Facebook, including my own author page. And that’s where the problem started.
About a month ago, I decided to pay the same attention to my own blog as I did to other websites. After all, I have 12 years’ worth of material here on The Seated View and it seems a pity to just let it sit there. In addition to sharing my new posts, I started scheduling older posts every few days.
And that’s when things started getting wonky.
1. My blog is blocked for the first time ever
All of a sudden, Facebook wouldn’t let me publish posts for my blog on my Facebook page. Thankfully, they have a place where you can tell them why this is not reasonable and I wrote an email which resulted in the block being lifted. Since everything had been reinstated, I assume the problem was fixed and it went back to business as usual.
2. My blog is blocked again, maybe because I used Facebook’s scheduling function
A week later they blocked me again. More than that, they also removed every post on my Facebook page that had a link to my blog. I complained again and the block was lifted again (and the posts reinstated). Based on my research, the blocks seem to potentially have something to do with me posting a number of links to my blog in a short period of time.
Isn’t that what the scheduling tool is supposed to do? Should I mention that there’s never been a problem with the scheduling articles from HealthCentral or any other site?
The next day, Instagram (owned by Facebook) designated the link to my blog that’s displayed in my Instagram bio as abusive/malicious. Although I could post photos and stories to Instagram, I was blocked from liking and commenting on other people’s posts. I tried to report this error, but nothing happened. I tried removing the link to my blog from my bio, but was not allowed because my valuable contained a link to a website that had been deemed abusive or malicious. After repeatedly reporting the problem and sending desperate emails, I was reinstated. That “only” took TWO WEEKS!
3. My blog is blocked because I wrote about chronic illness and sex
I go back to posting, but do so more carefully occasionally using HootSuite to schedule posts from The Seated View on my Facebook page, and making sure I don’t schedule more than two posts for my blog at a time when I use the Facebook scheduling function.
Only to find out that last week, Facebook removed a link to one of these posts. None of the other posts that linked to The Seated View were removed and I could still publish posts containing links to the blog. So what was the offending post? Apparently writing about the issue of chronic illness relationships in which the healthy partner seeks sex elsewhere is a violation of Facebook’s community standards. As it did not contain naughty pictures, hate speech, fraudulent content, or someone else’s intellectual property, I have no idea why.
But it gets better. On Sunday, I published a post on Facebook in which I explained what had been going on. Monday morning, my blog is blocked again, all past posts on my Facebook page have been removed. The timing is awkward. It makes us look as if a staffer has reviewed my blog post about chronic illness and sex and deemed it contrary to Facebook community standards. Or that I get penalized for talking about it.
I am also blocked from interacting with my community on Instagram and they’ve added an extra little something. Now I’m also blocked from writing anything to accompany a post.
No recourse: the Facebook and Instagram walls
At no point during this debacle have I been able to speak to a representative from Facebook or Instagram. Because I cannot reach a person, I don’t know what I’ve done to be put on the Naughty List and I don’t know what to do to get off it.
I have sent multiple emails explaining the situation and requesting that my blog be removed from the Naughty List so I can continue using Facebook and Instagram as respectfully as I always have. And right now, I await again to see if my posts are reinstated sometime today — Facebook usually takes about 25 hours for this process — and likely wait another two weeks on Instagram.
And it is bringing me to the verge of tears. Social media is hard for me — it requires a level of consistent energy and effort that I simply don’t have. I have put a lot of my very limited energy into social media because I love the people I have meet there. And because it helps people find my writing and my books. Having my website repeatedly categorized as malicious is bound to have ripples. It could lead to browsers and search engines blocking it, along with my name, my other writing, and my books. And then my career goes in the toilet.
Being penalized and left to guess at the reason without recourse is offensive, heartbreaking, and infuriating.
Do you have any suggestions for what I can do to stop this vicious cycle? It would be much appreciated.