Face-off

I was one of the first Facebook users on my block. I’m not usually an “early adapter” – I let others struggle with beta versions, then I move in when the system is actually working. But I heard about Facebook almost 15 years ago and quickly saw how easily I could meet beekeepers around the world. I learned a lot from them, visited some, and gained some new perspectives. This led to lasting friendships (and business) with Chilean and Hungarian beekeepers, and connections to inspiring folks like Lesli Sagan, who started Avital’s Apiaries (see “computer guru starts bee-driven business” in the Ithacan newspaper).

Facebook also helped me connect with family. With almost a dozen siblings and a hundred cousins, nephews, nieces, and misfits, there was always something interesting going on. I shared photos of my kids’ brilliant concertos and my backwoods road trips. It seemed pretty good.

I think my first Facebook scare was when I wrote to a high school friend through Facebook’s Messenger (an email service). I told her that I was going to take a few extra days in Holland and hopefully, finally, see some work by van Gogh – an artist whom I adored since childhood. I posted the private note to her, then went back to my Facebook home page where ads greeted me for tickets to the van Gogh museum and lodging in Amsterdam. Facebook had read my Messenger mail. Creepy.

I cut back on my Facebooking. I stopped posting so many personal photos. But I kept my ‘business’ page, a place where I announced new bee blog posts (like the one you are reading right now). Then, some months ago, I placed a short piece with a link from Facebook to here. Facebook’s security forces blocked me, saying that the site I was linking to “did not meet community standards.” A beekeeping site? Not meeting community standards? There was no recourse. The badbeekeeping blog was banned from Facebook. I wrote to them, but never got an answer. I tried to post more pieces with links to this blog but they were all banned as “not meeting community standards”. Was the problem all those photos of scantily-clad bees? They wouldn’t tell me. Meanwhile, disgusting links to alt-news, anti-science, pro-fascist and antifa sites were everywhere. I saw some very ugly stuff posted by some of my Facebook  ‘friends’ – but my bees were still banned.

Then suddenly, a few weeks ago, Facebook lifted the ban against my bee blog. No explanation, no apologies. This certainly is not a big deal on the worldwide scheme of dank despair – except for what it reveals about monopolies, privacy, and the pursuit of wealth. I still use Facebook, but I rarely publish family stuff there anymore. I’m exploring alternatives, such as Reddit which is a bit wild and reckless, but entertaining and occasionally informative.  I’ve been tweeting for 10 years. Twitter has its use, and is especially good for announcements.  I’m using the WordPress blogging platform and I have a couple of private web servers. But should I explore other venues to replace Facebook? Am I missing anything?

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Ron has written two books, dozens of magazine and journal articles, and complements his first book, Bad Beekeeping, with the blog at badbeekeepingblog.com. Ron wrote his most recent book, The Mountain Mystery, for everyone who has looked at a mountain and wondered what miracles of nature set it upon the landscape. For more about Ron, including some cool pictures taken when he was a teenager, please check Ron's site: miksha.com.
This entry was posted in Outreach, Personal, Strange, Odd Stuff. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Face-off

  1. avwalters says:

    I. too, had my WordPress blog blocked on Facebook. Since I’m not racy enough to question community standards, I figured it was a beef between WP and FB. Nothing personal…just business. And they appear to have ironed out their wrinkles, because I’m now being invited again to share across platforms. I don’t know if I will. I like my quiet little backwater on WordPress–I may just keep things more personal. I am a funny kind of Luddite–eschewing the gaudier social platforms, but sharing freely on WP about bees, gardening and other ramblings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Hi A.V.,
      I don’t know if “Nothing personal…just business” makes me feel better not. But thanks for your note. Meanwhile, I just read your piece on Pantry Mentality and it reminded me of the day I spent living in a really remote part of Saskatchewan for ten years. There was a grocer in our town, but the nearest big shopping was 110 kilometres away!
      Ron

      Like

      • avwalters says:

        There is a funny thing about very remote living, while you certainly stock up on necessities, suddenly a social event a couple of hours away doesn’t seem like a big deal. Helps if your vehicle has good tunes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ron Miksha says:

        Absolutely. Some folks would never believe that, until they live remote.

        Like

      • Emily Scott says:

        When I was living in London a social event a couple of hours away wasn’t a big deal as the city takes so long to travel across. My daily commute was an hour and a half each way. So perhaps Londoners with their willingness to travel have something in common with people living remotely!

        Like

    • Lesli Sagan says:

      Thanks for the shoutout, Ron! Honey bees are so inspiring to me; they’re hardworking, family-oriented, and generally peaceful, as long as you don’t mess with them. Role models for us all.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Apiarist says:

    Hello Ron

    Facebook is incredibly popular (still) considering what it does with your data. All these people claiming how important privacy is … and yet they let Facebook mine their emails/posts to deliver targeted advertising AND then sell the data on to third parties for goodness knows what.

    My blog posts are announced on Facebook and Twitter. That’s the only activity on Facebook. I’ve recently looked back at how effective they are at driving traffic to my site … the answer is, not very. Perhaps 5% of less via Facebook and a quarter of that from Twitter (which is only a little better that Pinterest which I’m not sure I even have an account on!). The vast majority comes from web searches and direct emails sent to subscribers. Certainly not enough to justify losing some privacy by using it more.

    Of course, it’s not just Facebook that do this effectively. I use Chrome and my Android newsfeed is littered with topics I’ve recently searched for on the browser.

    One thing I can strongly recommend is an Ad Blocker – I’ve got a Raspberry Pi single board computer through which everything is filtered on the network. Links that deliver adverts (like doubleclick) are discarded. It saves about 20% of bandwidth usage and makes for a much ‘cleaner’ (and with my ageing eyes, easier to read) desktop.

    Happy New Year
    David

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Hi David,
      Lots of great points there, but using Raspberry Pi is a bit beyond me, though I do use an Ad Blocker. Like you, I find that it makes reading articles much easier. Thanks for the estimate of traffic flow from social media to blogs. I’ve wondered about their utility but never bothered to do any deeper looking. You are completely right – not worth trading privacy for to get a few visitors.
      Thanks for writing the Apiarist – I always enjoy reading about beekeeping up your way. (Did you know that my city (Calgary) was named after a Scottish castle?)
      Take care,
      Ron

      Like

  3. Erik says:

    Ron, I tried to link to your Australian Fires blog last year from Facebook and was told the site was blocked as well. I filled out the paperwork to have the block removed and never heard back. I agree it is kind of scary how connected the web is these days. I remember when email was new that some folks used to create an Email signature filled with “trigger” words that the NSA and others were theoretically using to monitor email traffic around the world. Not a common practice now though the sentiment to mess up the automated matching engines might still be useful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Hi Erik,
      Thanks for trying to break down the Facebook monolith for me!
      I like your comment about email signatures with interesting key words, but I never wanted to encourage the NSA to read my mail!
      Take care and keep blogging over at Bees with Eeb. You always post interesting pieces with clever trigger words.
      Ron

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Granny Roberta says:

    What is this Facebook thing of which you speak?
    🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Neil says:

    Ron,

    I too have had links to my blog blocked by Facebook. Like you the reason given was that the site I was linking to “did not meet community standards” Baffled but recieving no reply or further explanation I did a little research, the only possible reason that I could come up with was that I offer nucleus colonies for sale. Selling of livestock on FB is no longer allowed. https://www.farmanddairy.com/news/do-not-pass-go-farmers-livestock-sales-and-facebook-jail/567281.html

    Happy new year
    Neil

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Emily Scott says:

    ‘Scantily-clad bees’ made me snort! There’s Instagram… but that’s the same, isn’t it? Or Whats app for private chats, you could have a family group to share photos and videos in.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Probably because the word “bad” is in the title, and that is not “politically correct”, whereas antifa, pro-facism is politically correct. It seems to me situations that are bad, are considered good and vice-versa. Very strange times now, unsettling. I believe privacy as we once knew it is slowly being removed. In the midst of all this stuff, we have our bear’s to keep us sane, and how I enjoy your blog Ron and David! You are appreciated. Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Hi Deb,
      About ‘bad’ in the title – I titled my book Bad Beekeeping because I was tired of reading so many self-proclaimed ‘good’ beekeeping books. This site, of course, is named after the book.
      You are right. Privacy, as we once knew it, is slowly disappearing. But it’s amazing how many people I know who say they don’t like the loss of privacy but nevertheless tell the world what they had for breakfast and place photo/video tours of their homes on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or other sites.
      Anyway, take care up there in the Catskills. Winter will be over in just a couple months for you!
      Ron

      Like

  8. savedandsmiling says:

    I meant BEE’s!

    Like

  9. savedands,iling says:

    I meant BEE’s!

    Like

  10. Archie McLellan says:

    When I read: ‘With almost a dozen siblings..’ I can’t let it go. I’m the oldest of 12, so I feel a connection. Huge numbers of extended family of course, spread all over the place, but we all keep in touch. Thanks for your posts and all best for the coming year. Archie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Hi Archie,
      The oldest of 12? It seemed so normal growing up, didn’t it? Now we find we were part of a freak show. Never knew it at the time, of course. There were actually only ten of us in my family, so it was a somewhat smallish big family. I was the 5th oldest and had five younger siblings. I tried not to be noticed and was mostly granted that wish.
      Best regards to you and good luck with the bees in your part of England!
      Ron

      Like

  11. joycetalksbees says:

    I don’t like Facebook, people post things I really don’t want to read. I don’t mind joining in on a blog like this (my first attempt)! So we shall see how this goes. I regards to beekeeping…does anyone make face creams using beeswax or varnish from propolis? I do both, and would like to both share and extend my knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Hi, Joyce.
      I never really liked Facebook, but it’s sometimes useful in figuring out the politics of family members and friends I thought I knew.
      Do you follow Lesli Sagan, from Ithaca, NY? She’s a real innovator of beehive byproducts. Check out Avital’s bees and see what she’s been up to. I think you’ll like it.
      Thanks for writing,
      Ron

      Like

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