Friday, 24 April 2015

How Facebook's Anti Bully Policy
has Paved a Golden Path
for Bullies to Thrive

Guest Post by
Kie'Arathorne Âû and Elinor Broadbent Âû


Ironic isn't it, when facebook says it has created a rule to protect people and that very rule is then used to oppress them? What makes it worse is that Facebook is actively turning a blind eye to this.
 

So what is happening you might ask? This is what is happening. Âû (or Âutistic ûnion) was formed on the 5th of November 2012. Its purpose is to actively show the world that we are pro autism and proud of that. This is done by showing the Âû suffix within the social media users name: The name started on Facebook but has since moved to Twitter and Google+ . What does Âû stand for exactly? Well if you believe in the following tenants than you are welcome to add it to your social media account name:
 

1. I am Autistic. (or) I support those who are Autistic.
2. I embrace my Autism as a very significant part of my identity.
3. I embrace those who would sacrifice to protect all Autistic life.
4. I embrace the belief that Autism does not need any "curing".
5. I embrace the self-advocacy goal of "Everything about us, with us".
6. I embrace the definition of Autism as a neuro-social difference.
7. I embrace measures directed at protecting Autistics from attack.
8. I embrace a person-centered approach to all Autism issues.
9. I embrace rigorous scientific approaches to co-occurring conditions.
10. I embrace Autistics leading their own welfare organisations.


But, it seems you are not welcome to add it to your Facebook page. Somewhere along the line something dark and foul leaked into the fold. Every now and then autistic communities are targeted by trolls. They come into the group and they cause havoc, upsetting people and when they are finally pushed out (or grow bored) they lay low until the next attack (or move onto another easy target.) It happens all too often. Some of these are professional troll groups and no matter what Facebook says they thrive on their platform. No matter how many groups are forced to disband the members are never punished and they are instantly allowed to reform under different names. And so they go on and on.
 

The founding member of Âû responded swiftly to these depraved people and as a result they created a vendetta against him targeting him and anything he was associated with, including anyone and everyone who wore the Âû slogan with pride. Their cowardly acts went from propaganda, slander to full on attacks through alternate accounts and they managed to bring others into their folds simply through lies and deceit. They have been on a campaign of reporting anyone with Âû in their name since. Since then there has been a slow trickle of reports with occasional onslaughts. These cowardly keyboard warriors never show their faces, but the signs are easy to spot. Whenever they arrive in a new group reports jump, it's not hard to connect the dots, but it is almost impossible to show any definitive evidence. Ironically many of them use fake accounts to do this, too gutless to show their real faces.

So how can this be? Well put simply they are reporting people for fake accounts. It's as simple as that and is extremely easy to do. It is far easier to report this than it is to report someone for inappropriate content and has an almost instant effect without anyone on Facebook reviewing the account. All you have to do is suspect someone with a fake name and the damage is done. First time it occurs you have to type in your "real" name. The second time you HAVE to provide facebook with photo ID, (because yeah right, we want to give spotless-facebook even more personal information they can sell off.) Your account is suspended until you provide photo ID ,you can't even retrieve your photos or anything, it's deactivated and nobody has access to your wall. There is no room for appeal or avenue you can take to open up a dialogue with facebook about your profile and the reasons why you chose that name. If you solo manage a group/page then you've lost that too, it effectively becomes an unmanaged waste of webspace.
 

I did also have one fake account that was targeted (at the same time as my real). A harmless page I named after a character of my book. I used it for a few reasons. 1.) To co-manage my pages in case something had happened to my real account (hacking etc). 2.) to act as my story/writing communicator (I daydreamed that if I ever published and made some fans than they could friend my second account instead of my real one and I would interact with them, pretending to be that character visiting Earth. It was great fun. 3.) As my work on my book slowed due to other commitments I began to play some games, I chose the second account so I wouldn't bother real friends and family and though it doesn't seem important I invested many hours into that over the years and made some cool friends. Now lost forever ... and why might you add? Because I thought I could interact with the autistic community and write all my troubles and secretes without my real family and friends reading on. It was a privacy for privacy thing. And as a reward I was attacked several times from the very autism group I founded and my account permanently deactivated.
Want some facts:
 

In 2012 it was estimated that 83 million accounts on Facebook are fakes [ref 1] in 2013 it was estimated that there were 67 million fake accounts [ref 2] which amounted between 5.5 to 11.2 percent of the Facebook population.
 

Facebook policy states you are to use one account with your real name. No multiples of your name. Even so Facebooks name policy is a gray area. It states you use your real name, but at [ref 3] 4.10 is says:
 

If you select a username or similar identifier for your account or Page, we reserve the right to remove or reclaim it if we believe it is appropriate (such as when a trademark owner complains about a username that does not closely relate to a user's actual name).
This itself means that in many cases the Âû should be allowed, as the clear majority of users do use their real names with the suffix added so the public knows straightaway that they positively identify as autistic or pro-autistic. The only time it could be affected is if the change questioned is trademarked, ie can be mistaken for some business motif or what not. In this case Âû definitely does not belong to any such situation. It is free to be used in the intention that Âû created it for: Autism acceptance.
 

Another thing to note is that I found it difficult to find solid policy on Facebook accounts. It took me ages to find the terms of service but they don't clearly state things and why. Outside that I found references but nothing more. Such as it is not permitted to pretend to be another person, all the other points seemed gray at best. But nobody is being another person: public or personal. We are all ourselves (and in my second account a character I invented which was linked to my real account via family and pages created.)

All the Âû people want is to display that the suffix on their profiles. Something they are able to do without threat of attack on G+ and Twitter. But instead what we have found is persecution. What's worse is that the reporters have not stopped when the Âû is taken away. They've reported people who have reverted to their original, real names because they know that most people won't provide photo ID to facebook on principle and that their account will be gone forever. Bullies have converted a policy Facebook created to stop bullying into a means of immature harassment that can't be placed back onto them, they have made a simple, efficient and easy means to attack others.
 

Facebook doesn't actually monitor this system in place to "protect us". They rely purely on reports and don't gather statistics about these reports, they don't have any warning system for potential bully reporters, or look into their names.
 

Facebook has created an entire new method for people to attack and harass innocent and harmless communities on facebook. Facebook needs to do something about this flawed policy.

Please, share this around to as many people as possible. Lets make Facebook and its users aware of this abuse of their policies and the effect it is having on those who choose to adopt the moniker or who wish to keep their identities safe.

To view Âû and see what we are all about go to:
https://m.facebook.com/AutisticUnion?ref=bookmark

   Kie'Arathorne Âû
   Elinor Broadbent Âû


__________________________________________________________________________

References:
Ref 1: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2012/08/02/83-million-estimated-facebook-profiles-are-fake/
Ref 2: http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2014/02/03/facebook-estimates-5-5-11-2-accounts-fake/
ref 3: https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms