Social media

How to get banned from social media without posting anything • The Register

Something for the weekend, sir? ” It’s already arrived ?

Here! It’s working now! “There’s no need to push him,” I explain calmly. “Just put it here and it should automatically insert itself, see?”

Ms D is trying to connect two social media accounts so she doesn’t have to upload the same photo twice. Frankly, she doesn’t even want to download it once. She would rather not have to deal with it at all.

Mrs. D does not do social networks. Never ; never will be.

It’s a bit of a hassle because she needs to have an active social media presence to publicize her brand new local business. Oh yes, social media is an absolute necessity. All influencers say that, and we always have to do what influencers tell us or they won’t be influencers anymore. Well, that would be a disaster, wouldn’t it?

Once I tried to make him understand the importance of UGC. For weeks afterwards, she gave me a funny look until we finally cleared the air by establishing that UGC does not mean universal genital castration. Given that 25% of user-generated content includes dick images, that was a misunderstanding too far.

“Social media is a chasm of perpetually angry lunatics, pornographers, criminals, and dummies hurling insults at each other,” she replied.

For someone who doesn’t deal with social media, she has remarkable insight into it.

The winning argument, however, was when I suggested that the alternative was to print hundreds of leaflets and go door to door to post them in mailboxes. Or buy ad space… which should be online and backed by a fancy website.

Let’s start with a few social media accounts, I say, and we’ll connect them so you can upload your photos to one and then they’ll magically appear on the other! It will only take five minutes!

Here we are, five hours later, still trying to make it work.

The first hour was wasted choosing a username. Strictly speaking, she needed two usernames – one for each platform – but they had to be the same or as similar as possible, so people would recognize them as being related to the same person. There’s no point in being Jesus_forgive411 on one platform and Hi_Satan666 the other; this tends to confuse the message. But registering the same username on two social media platforms these days is proving trickier than I remember the last time I did it over a decade ago.

By “more delicate”, I mean impossible.

We kept two browser windows open side by side, trying to get the names in sync. As soon as we found one that worked on one platform, it was unavailable on the other. I even clicked the “Suggest Username” button and got DABBS_354168. Who knew there were so many Dabbs? Well, apparently there were even more on the other platform, as the username DABBS354168 was already taken. Blimey, common as mud, we are.

Finally armed with the memorable DABBS_9571684884194295615498, we are setting up a content link between the two platforms. Great, let’s try!

Ms D says she is already bored with social media and insists we take a break as she is not yet acclimatized enough to adopt the savvy social media user convention of pissing in empty cola bottles under the desk rather than stepping away from the screen for two seconds. I nod.

After lunch, we reconnect so she can upload her very first social media post. What should be an auspicious occasion is spoiled by a message when she logs into the first platform.

Your account has been blocked due to a violation of our content guidelines.

Nowhere is there an explanation of what rules were broken or how, or even what to do about it. We spend the next two hours researching the customer support pages [ha ha ha, sorry, it always makes me laugh when they call them that], followed by general Google searches, calls to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, and a telegram to the Vatican. Nobody has a clue, although at least I managed to confirm that Francis picked up this Amazon package for me. He says he’ll blow it Sunday after work.

For more amusement, although it is not ours, we are looking for a contact email address or phone number on the social media platform to ask what to do next. I even try to ask on social media itself, but of course that doesn’t get us anywhere at first: all that happens is a bunch of people jump on my post to tell me that I’m “like Hitler” before sending me photos of their privates.

But then, as I was browsing through them, I spot a reply from the moderator of the stream [Curation: Richard Intimate Photography, I guess the official job title goes] which pasted a shortened URL that we should click on for help. I click on it and we are faced with a release request form. Finally.

Our complaint form completed and sent, we spend the next hour waiting for a response. Ms. D goes back to work. I skim through the news online, preferring to stay at my computer a little longer now that I’ve lined up a row of empty cola bottles under my desk.

The answer comes back in an instant. Social media moderators had been looking into our case for at least…ooh, I dunno…a good four seconds before rendering its final verdict.

Your account has been blocked due to a violation of our content guidelines. You cannot challenge this decision.

I am disappointed but not surprised. The case had certainly not been investigated by a human with a brain, but by an AI without a brain. There is no way to break through this barrier except by trying to make noise on the public support streams. I hate doing this because you end up looking like another screaming asshole to everyone on social media.

It’s funny, however, how social media companies claim to regularly remove so-called “bad actors” and hate speech posters from their platforms. I say “funny” because they usually quote big numbers in the thousands or tens of thousands, but no one ever seems to dispute who gets included in these regular purges. Has anyone ever requested to see the list?

I ask for a friend: specifically, on behalf of DABBS_9571684884194295615498, who found herself rubbing shoulders with various bad actors and enemies. She is banished now… a solitary wanderer on the waves of sershal meejah; a poster pariah; made hungry for lack of food.

I ask: what did you put in your feed to get them to send you postal messages like that?

“I haven’t posted anything yet,” she replies. “We had lunch instead, remember?

Lo and behold: Ms. D’s social media feed managed to irrevocably break social media content rules within minutes of creating her account — without actually containing any content.

Hooray for the AI! And hooray for those tens of thousands of banned accounts! The world already feels safer. ®

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Alistair Dabbs

Alistair Dabbs is a freelance tech enthusiast, juggling tech journalism, training, and digital publishing. He’s currently wondering if it’s time to take a step back from his messy posting schedule of posting one LinkedIn tweet and blah a week. Maybe once a year would do. More than Autosave is for Wimps and @alidabbs.