|Jan. 10, 2017|
I spoke yesterday on the phone with Damario Solomon-Simmons, a powerhouse attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We discussed a series of very disturbing incidents that have occurred on Facebook since the start of the year. From what I am observing, nearly every African American friend I have has been recently suspended from the network for one reason or another. One person was suspended for reading a harmless poem, another for sharing an article with the title, "Tyler Perry tells Spike Lee to shut the hell up." A third friend was suspended because the page she was an editor on had posted an article that quoted a racist in the title of the story.
What's most surprising is that many of these articles (like the one above) were posted years ago, meaning that the network is now going through years of content and banning people for things they said in 2013 or even earlier than that. Given the way my black friends have been affected (I can count about 10 - 15 right off hand who've been suspended this week alone), it appears that there is some systematic effort by Facebook to exterminate the African American presence from its platform.
In some ways, the behavior of the social media network reminds me of the way the federal government imposed organized crime laws, incarcerating nearly every person who had any association with the person who committed the original offense. Even those who were editors on my Facebook page were being suspended despite the fact that they hadn't posted on facebook for weeks or even months. What's worse is that there is almost no due process, with us being unable to even get a reply when we email Facebook's administrators to explain that we aren't spewing hate speech toward anyone.
As a person who's used Facebook for quite a while now, I was deeply disturbed. But as a believer in black self-reliance, I have begun making some adjustments. First, I am now supporting Blaqspot.com, a black-owned social media network that doesn't have the racism that we're seeing with Facebook. Secondly, we are now creating Financial Juneteenth, an all black social media platform that brings together those who are interested in the Black Economic Revolution we began several years ago.
Finally, Attorney Simmons and I have begun investigating whether there are grounds for a class action racial discrimination lawsuit against Facebook, given that the network's ban of specific words appears to have had a very harmful effect on black people. There are still millions of black people on Facebook, and they deserve the right to speak online without being under constant attack from this form of disturbing digital persecution. A person shouldn't be banned for quoting Harriet Tubman.
Take care and please have an awesome day.
Dr Boyce Watkins