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?