Last night, Facebook unpublished my author page, claiming that it went “against our community standards.” Needless to say, I was flabbergasted. What did me in? Was it my weekly Work-in-Progress excerpt? Or perhaps it was my occasional thoughts on the writing process? I didn’t know and they wouldn’t tell me.
I understand that Facebook has been under a lot of pressure to police content. Even so, I was caught by surprise. After all, I don’t talk about politics or sex and I don’t use profanity. My page is about my writing and my life, period. I can only assume that a bot mistagged my content. Regardless, I was unable to request a formal review of the decision, with Facebook explaining that it has “fewer reviewers right now because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.” All I could do was register my “disagreement” with the decision.
This story has a happy-ish ending. In the dead of night, Facebook reinstated my author page. No explanation, though. Just a note telling me it had been published again after a review of my “appeal.” I suppose I feel fortunate. In researching this issue, I came across lots of stories from people who’d lost their Facebook page and never gotten it back.
Truthfully, I don’t have a big Facebook audience. Plus, Facebook deliberately limits my reach, requiring one to pay up in order to reach a larger percentage of one’s own fans. So, my engagement tends to be rather limited. If I had lost the page, I doubt it would’ve hurt me much.
As of late, some of my author friends and I have been discussing the peril of building our platforms on third-party sites. Frequent rule changes and rising ad costs are often cited as key problems. I guess I can now add the risk of accidental deplatforming to the list. All in all, I don’t see much point in building something that could be taken from me at any time. I’ll continue to cross-post on Facebook for the time being. But going forward, I’ll be putting more of my effort into this website as well as into my newsletter.