Posts Tagged ‘Northern California’

Facebook: The Anti-Social Social Network

Friday, November 14th, 2008

You know that expression “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”? Well, how about “Hell hath no fury like a social networker scorned”?

A couple of weeks ago I had my Facebook account disabled with no warning or explanation. I’d been online in the evening and had left the page open while I took an overseas call. When I returned to the computer – BANG!! No more Facebook. Needless to say, I was not amused. I figured it was yet another of their multitudinous technological glitches – the very same glitches that have prevented me from accessing many of the applications I have loaded. I mean, I can receive Poke Pros, but I can’t seem to send them back out. What’s the world coming to? I figured this time something truly major had malfunctioned. However, when my bear was able to get into his Facebook account, I realised that things were definitely not kosher.

For several days running, I sent copious emails to copious Facebook email addresses, as did many of my Facebook friends, who wished to lodge their protests over my apparent and tragic assassination. I hadn’t done anything I could think of to bring the wrath of the Silicon Valley gods down upon me. My only consolation that it had all been some dreadful mistake was down to the fact that on the very same night my account went missing, so too did my mother’s. Now this was truly bizarre, especially since she uses it nowhere near to the slavish and fanatical extent in which I do. I smelled conspiracy. And I was out for blood. There was more at stake here than simple social networking. I had things on my Facebook of great sentimental value to me – and perhaps this was what hurt the most: losing them forever.

To say that I was ready to recruit any surviving members of the Weathermen (or those not still in prison) to come with me to Palo Alto and do some major sorting out would not have been an understatement. (I should add that I’ve been told I look pretty hot in khaki too.) Had I actually boarded that flight to Northern California, well… let’s just say that Mark Zuckerberg (can we think of anything that rhymes with “Zuckerberg”?) would have been wise to pack up his cojones and head for the Mexican border. This was NOT how The Queen of Facebook should be treated!

When I received an email containing a Washington Post link from a friend about what can only be described as an indiscriminate cull by Facebook against its users, I really freaked out. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but there definitely appears to be a discriminatory policy in operation here. My bear has been the victim of it; so too have a number of his mates who, like him, don’t qualify as sharing the same species as you and I do. Having said that, I know plenty of homo sapiens who have likewise been treated unfairly, having their accounts randomly and bizarrely disabled for reasons known only to some anonymous entities hiding behind a computer screen whose sole source of social interaction is derived courtesy of their own hand. Bad enough to get scolded for adding too many friends or joining too many groups, but where will it end? Delete accounts of people who have a big schnoz? (Guess Babs Streisand will be shit out of luck on this one!)

To make the situation even more bizarre, only a few weeks before my enforced disappearance from my favourite social networking site I received an ominous message from the Facebook gods that a photo I’d uploaded had been removed due to a “violation of terms of use”. Now that puzzled me. What could I possibly have posted that could even remotely have violated anything? A photo of me at a book launch? A photo of me at my mother’s house? A photo of me with my bear? WHAT? Hell, I’ve seen stuff on Facebook that’s downright pornographic, to say nothing of the kind of groups they allow to proliferate – groups which should only be allowed on a subscription porn site, not on a mainstream social networking site. Hell, I’ve seen profile photos of women who look as if they’re plying their dodgy wares on a street corner. But who gets a threatening message about violating terms of use? Me! So I combed through my various photos, trying to figure out which one had been excised out of existence. And guess what? It was the book jacket for my anthology Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers. I nearly fell off my chair. Okay, it’s got nudity, but it’s artful and subtle nudity, not pornographic nudity. You see raunchier stuff on a postcard from Miami Beach. I couldn’t help wondering who in my circle of 4,000 plus Facebook friends would have complained about the cover of a book I’d done, especially if they were interested in having me as a friend in the first place! Ironically, Wicked has been and still is being sold by major booksellers – and placed out on the front tables, not relinquished to some unreachable top shelf in the rear of the store next to the toilets. Clearly, Borders and Waterstones have no objection to the book jacket. Go figure.

Anyway, my story has a happy ending… at least for now. I’m back online at Facebook and, I am pleased to say, was apparently sorely missed. In fact, I received a number of messages and wall posts from people I’d never even spoken to before, welcoming me back and saying that it had been really boring without me. Gosh. Perhaps there is something to this social networking gig after all. I mean, a little bit of mass adoration can go a long way.

And who knows? That random poke you receive might develop into the love of your life! (If it doesn’t lead you into the arms of a serial killer first.)

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