Democrat: Republicans got me banned on Facebook

A poster to pro-Democratic Facebook pages such as that of Rachel Maddow says his posts are being flagged as spam by political opponents, earning him a Facebook suspension. He says he's not alone.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read
Jon Kopp. Used with permission.

Why must political seasons always be as fragrant as a raccoon's breath?

Agreeing to disagree seems to have all the popularity of dancing in a graveyard. Who, then, can but offer a snort of resignation that some underhanded nastiness has allegedly wafted over to Facebook?

Allegations are surfacing from the political swamp that supporters of one party are getting those of their rival party suspended from commenting on fan pages.

This alleged ruse was brought to my attention by Jon Kopp, the founder and president of Quality Epoxyin Gilbert, Ariz. He claims he has been banned by Facebook because the site accuses him of constantly posting spam. (I have placed Facebook's automated message to Kopp above.)

Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

What Kopp believes has happened is that Republican operatives -- not official operatives, you understand, but mere enthusiasts -- have discovered that you merely need to "like" a Facebook business page in order to be able to comment on it.

So these wily weasels allegedly claim they "like," say, Rachel Maddow and then mark certain Democratic-leaning postings as spam.

In due course, Facebook suspends these allegedly decent and lawful posters with a message that reads "This Feature is Blocked For You," as if Facebook is doing you a service by blocking you from posting. The suspensions can last 15 days or more and accuse posters of "making spammy and irrelevant posts on Facebook Pages."

Kopp told me: "Since I have been accused of spamming, it effects me on all pages that are not my personal pages. I am blocked on all, just not my personal page, because I am in control of that."

Naturally, my first instinct was to contact Facebook and see if the company knew of this alleged naughtiness. A Facebook spokesman told me: "While we are not aware nor have validated the existence of this particular attack, our automated and manual review systems are trained with controversial content in mind."

So what Kopp alleges might be occurring?

The spokesman added: "We weigh both positive and negative signals in our machine learning systems. Our systems have built in manual and automated redundancies to make sure content and users are not affected by controversial content, that abides by our terms."

Ah, so it could have happened? I asked Facebook if they might look into Kopp's case. The company has promised to do so. Facebook believes in its systems and often the people who attempt this sort of spamming scam use fake accounts.

However, it is perfectly possible to post only positive things on certain pages and still get banned, simply for posting in an excessive manner.

Kopp told me he has heard of many people who have been given Facebook bans for what they suspect are the same nefarious reasons.

He believes that Facebook should have more controls in place to prevent such behavior. He insisted: "If Facebook wants to rule the world in social networking, they need to fix this flaw immediately. The business owner of that page should be in charge so that the hijacking does not occur anymore."

He says that when he tried to contact Facebook, the customer service was less than he had expected. Indeed, he says that it was less than nothing.

"I called Facebook ... and the message says if you want customer service support press 1. I press 1 and a new message says 'We do not offer customer support'," he said.

I am sure that if fans of one party are being accused of such behavior, there will be sufficient cheerleaders of their rival who have themselves worked out this vehicle of pleasure and visited it upon their opponents.

This all might seem childish, unseemly, pathetic, annoying, and despicable. These adjectives would cheerily describe contemporary politics.