Facebook banned my event called “Is Social Media Good for Democracy?”

I want to discuss something that happened to me on Facebook this week. On June 26th, one of my friends from this forum sent me a link to this debate. The debate was about the influence of social media on democratic institutions. One of the debaters was Roger McNamee, an advisor for the CHT.

I thought the debate was great and wanted to talk about it with other people. I contacted my friend @ferj since he has an organization that helps people coordinate discussion groups in the Bay Area. He agreed to host a discussion about it through his organization.

Ferj offered to post about the discussion on his group’s Facebook page since I don’t use Facebook much. I helped him create a Facebook event called “Post-Debate Discussion: Is Social Media Good for Democracy?” We posted the event on June 27th and had 12 people express interest.

Everything was normal until Tuesday afternoon (July 3rd). On that day, Ferj got a notification from Facebook. It said that Facebook had deleted the event permanently. Facebook said the event “look[ed] like spam and doesn’t follow our Community Standards.”

The message didn’t provide any further details about the decision. The only way to appeal it was to click a button which read “This Isn’t Spam.” Ferj clicked the button, but Facebook just displayed this message: “You told us that your post wasn’t spam CLOSED.”

Facebook hasn’t reinstated the event or reached out to us since. Ferj’s group has hosted more than a dozen discussions in the past, posted as events like this on Facebook. Facebook has never banned or criticized any of them before.

It seems like Facebook is censoring us. This brings up a lot of interesting questions about Facebook’s practices. It also makes me wonder about freedom of speech online. How can we talk about the companies which control our means of communication?

I’d love to hear what you all think about these issues.


Thanks @willmattei Here’s a screenshot of the banned/removed event:


Wow, that’s very interesting.

I was a bit worried about FB’s reaction to our latest post on my office’s page. (See attached screenshot.) But nothing has happened so far.


This is quite infuriating. Probably, it just their stupid spam algorithms, but then “who knows”?
Could it be that there are sinister motives at work? Could it be that Facebook tries to hinder communities that discuss Facebook alternatives, might coalesce on the idea to build alternatives to Facebook?

Related problem to this, is that you cannot even appeal to Facebook or somewhere to have transparent view onto the reasons why they blocked it. These algorithms needs to be transparent and auditable.


This is interesting. "Who is holding Google / Facebook Accountable?"

Before the internet, newspapers kept the powers in check (i.e. Spielberg’s “The Post”). I believe it is the job of the journalists and editors to report these kind of activities and keep public informed. However it seems both Facebook and Google are now funding and providing a distribution path for the news agencies stories.

I recently emailed the Poynter Institute https://www.poynter.org hoping to get a news journalist response to my question below, I have not had a response:

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ Original Message ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐
On 27 June 2018 2:40 PM, wrote:

Hi David,

Love your newsletter. I have a big question:

Who is holding the powerful accountable? Journalists, Editors & Publishers independent of the political and institutional elite.

Specifically, who is holding Google or Facebook accountable? Journalists, Editors & Publishers.

Does this awkward relationship news organisations have with Google/Facebook to distribute content/stories on their services challenge editors & publishers to write stories critical of them? I would love to see if you could run a poll through your newsletter.

To what degree does Facebook & Google filter/shadow/remove content that does not fit with their aims? Beneath everything at the surface level, in their architecture they are mass-surveillance systems driven by commercial aims to sell advertising.

I’ve read much of Facebooks & Google’s ventures to ‘support quality journalism’. Whilst I believe there is indeed a genuine philanthropic desire amongst some of their senior staff to enable this to happen, they still must be scrutinised.

Their email below.

Kingi Gilbert

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ Original Message ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐
On June 27, 2018 2:08 PM, Google News Initiative googlenewsinitiative-noreply@google.com wrote:

Wednesday June 27, 2018

Introducing the Google News Initiative

On March 20th, we announced the Google News Initiative, our effort to help journalism thrive in the digital age. The GNI brings together everything we do in collaboration with the industry—across products, partnerships, and programs—to build a stronger future for news.

The effort is focused on three objectives we believe are critical to that future:

• Elevating and strengthening quality journalism

• Evolving business models to drive sustainable growth

• Empowering news organizations through technological innovation

This work matters deeply to us. Our mission to build a more informed world is inherently tied to the reporting of journalists and news organizations. As the rise of the internet continues to drive drastic shifts in how journalism is created, consumed, and paid for, we all need to do more.

We know that success can only be achieved by working closely together. We hope this newsletter provides an opportunity to better understand the work we’re doing across the world to further our objectives – and inspires ideas on how we can work more closely together to strengthen quality journalism. Read more »


Perhaps the issue was with Roger McNamee? Maybe they took exception to his continual public music performances? More likely, you may have connected to Facebook.ru rather than Facebook.us, and I am being serious. Facebook will not do anything to change its business practices, and you have the answer to your question, “Is Social Media Good for Democracy” from Facebook, received on July 3rd.

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I’m wondering if it’s because “democracy” is one of the terms it’s counting as political with their political ad content rules. They’re already over-reaching the oversight of “political” ads to include basically any paid posts from nonprofits or professional associations that use any of the terms they’ve deemed to be “national issues of legislative importance”–including terms like “health,” “education,” “economy,” “civil rights,” etc.

I wrote this article about how these new rules impact nonprofit organizations and the people who manage their pages–like me–because Facebook now requires admins who want to promote posts/run ads to be “authorized” by Facebook–which means sharing your US driver’s license or passport, mailing address and last 4 digits of your SSN. AS IF!

If you paid to promote the post, then that probably explains it…or at least maybe does. But it seems too coincidental that this NOT be related to the political ad thing to not be related, since it doesn’t seem spammy at all…I’m guessing “democracy” is one of the terms they’re monitoring as political?


As a big fan of Hanlon’s razor, I don’t attribute some sinister Facebook plot to this - as much as I don’t like nor trust them. Odds are that some underling near minimum wage was following guidelines as a worker bee and flagged it. Potentially under the oddest of rules like, “Ban things that tend to invite trolls”.

Which is really unfortunate.

If Facebook really did have some mastery or grand plan to squash the potential for controversy like that, they would never have had Zuckerberg and Sandberg disappear for days after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke… only to break the silence with a lawyer addressing an all-hands in their noted absence. This crew is not nearly as organized as they are given credit for being.

Nope, we never paid to promote the post. It was only visible on the public group my friend runs. Do you think Facebook may be monitoring non-promoted posts for “political” content as well?

Great article about Facebook’s new rules, by the way. I would never give them that level of personal information.

What do you mean by “connected to Facebook.ru” exactly?

I also doubt it’s some overarching sinister plot, but this raises other questions about Facebook’s power over our communication.

Let’s say it was a mistake on Facebook’s part. Even if that is the case, we can’t undo the damage because there is no appeals process nor transparency into how the decision was made. Facebook can quash whatever it wants with no repercussions.

This wouldn’t be a big deal if there were plenty of popular alternatives to Facebook…but there aren’t. Many of our acquaintances won’t hear about the discussion unless it is posted on Facebook because they don’t use any other sites to check for events. Facebook is in a monopolistic position and we need to demand greater accountability as a result.


Funny you mention this - I work with a new edtech startup called Parlay Ideas. We are a live discussion app for classrooms. One of our most popular discussion prompts is regarding ‘Social Media and Society’. I sat in on one of these discussions with a class of grade 10 students and was impressed at how much better of a grasp they have on the effects of social media than even most adults understand.

You will be happy to know that classrooms around the world are starting to have these discussions :slight_smile:.

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Yes, it’s the closed system nature that really makes it problematic. The line between a private company’s policy enforcement and public censorship gets easily blurred.

Why you complaining? Who has the most shares of company is the owner, they making rules. They can just completely delete your profile if you going to be very noisy

I was referring to the version of Facebook which is available to people who live in Russia. It is based in Moscow. Every post is scanned by the FSB. These were the conditions Putin insisted on if Facebook were to operate in Russia starting 5 years ago. There is no sense of freedom of expression or freedom of the press in the Russian edition of Facebook. Sort of like the Chinese version of Facebook. Facebook claims it is beholden to the concepts expressed in our constitution, such as free speech, but that is only in the US. And, of course, if Facebook really has 2 Billion users, less than 10% of those users are in the United States. That was what I meant by Facebook.ru

Yes, you are experiencing censorship and we will all see more of this as the ruling class feels threatened by more and more people’s spiritual awareness. As many people there may be who dissociate and alienate from others, there are those who want to connect, open up the conversation to discuss issues,solve problems and learn from others.in a civilized fashion. Facebook is being pressured by the ruling class who view free conversation and people coming together a threat. This is why we remain so divided as a country. It is all instigated. Humans are not normally this way. Read the book, The Fall by Steve Taylor.

Facebook like all businesses is not a democracy. Most don’t practice democratic decision-making. Their focus is on ego driven profits and this makes them (and us) susceptible to Fascism. It is up to us to push back, to seek higher spiritual guidance and to work together at the local, regional, national and global levels to solve humanity’s problems. Reach out to those who resonate with you and try to connect with those you may disagree with. Compassion and connection is key.

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I think that we need freedom and security in our conversations .
We are talking about strategic movements for CHT and for SF Chapter , and we need absolutely privacy guaranteed.

Facebook time is over.

I suggest to quit Facebook , I will do it in any case

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so you will not gonna use any social network?

No, I am in Liinkedin from their start up, and in my case it is very useful.
But I have control of my publications and my contacts.
I use it very few to conversation , we have other tools for that.
Ok, thats my personal position From long time ago I put in my website "I dont use Facebook for strategic reasons" www.hrbusiness.com.ar
Some peolple years ago said to me “you are crazy” Yes , probably I`m crazy…but from those years I was clear that Facebook was not an strategic option for me.

I think that cames a time that we have to take options according with our message to the world.
In every case, I respect all points of wiew, but I answered Will Mattei question

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Your site is awesome, Alfredo!

Can you share the following details:

  1. Who is your web designer?
  2. How did you come up with the structure for the site?
  3. Who are the other contributors to the site?
  4. How long did it take you to build, and what applications did you use?