A News Blog Complains about Facebook Content Policies

January 20, 2022

Did you know that the BMJ (in 1840 known as the Provincial Medical and Surgical Journal and then after some organizational and administrative cartwheels emerged in 1857 as the British Medical Journal? Now the $64 question, “Did you know that Facebook appears to consider the BMJ as a Web log or blog?” Quite a surprise to me and probably to quite a few others who have worked in the snooty world of professional publishing.

The most recent summary of the dust up between the Meta Zuck outfit and the “news blog” BMJ appears in “Facebook Versus The BMJ: When Fact Checking Goes Wrong.” The write up contains a number of Meta gems, and a read of the “news blog” item is a good use of time.

I want to highlight one items from the write up:

Cochrane, the international provider of high quality systematic reviews of medical evidence, has experienced similar treatment by Instagram, which, like Facebook, is owned by the parent company Meta. A Cochrane spokesperson said that in October its Instagram account was “shadow banned” for two weeks, meaning that “when other users tried to tag Cochrane, a message popped up saying @cochraneorg had posted material that goes against ‘false content’ guidelines” (fig 1). Shadow banning may lead to posts, comments, or activities being hidden or obscured and stop appearing in searches. After Cochrane posted on Instagram and Twitter about the ban, its usual service was eventually restored, although it has not received an explanation for why it fell foul of the guidelines in the first place.

I like this shadow banning thing.

How did the Meta Zuck respond? According to the “news blog”:

Meta directed The BMJ to its advice page, which said that publishers can appeal a rating directly with the relevant fact checking organization within a week of being notified of it. “Fact checkers are responsible for reviewing content and applying ratings, and this process is independent from Meta,” it said. This means that, as in The BMJ’s case, if the fact checking organization declines to change a rating after an appeal from a publisher, the publisher has little recourse. The lack of an independent appeals process raises concerns, given that fact checking organizations have been accused of bias.

There are other interesting factoids in the “news blog’s” write up.

Quickly, several observations:

  1. Opaque actions plague the “news blog”, the British Medical Journal and other luminaries; for example, the plight of the esteemed performer Amouranth of the Inflate-a-Pool on Amazon Twitch. Double talking and fancy dancing from Meta- and Amazon-type outfits just call attention to the sophomoric and Ted Mack Amateur Hour approach to an important function of a publicly-traded organization with global influence.
  2. A failure of “self regulation” can cause airplanes to crash and financial disruption to occur. Now knowledge is the likely casualty of a lack of a backbone and an ethical compass. Right now I am thinking of a ethics free, shape shifting octopus like character with zero interest in other creatures except their function as money generators.
  3. A combination of “act now, apologize if necessary” has fundamentally altered the social contract among corporations, governments, and individuals.

So now the BMJ (founded in 1840) has been morphed into a “news blog” pitching cow doody?

Imposed change is warranted perhaps? Adulting is long overdue at a certain high-tech outfit and a number of others of this ilk.

Stephen E Arnold, January 20, 2022


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