It has made national news that Facebook has been tightening it’s policies and even deleting or suspending accounts since August of last year. Facebook and other social media platforms even suspended President Trump’s accounts recently. Last week, Tiffany Jacob, who is from Tillamook and has had a personal account for over 12 years, woke up last Friday morning to find out her account was gone along with other accounts she was the administrator.
“Facebook wiped me out like I never existed,” Jacob said in a phone interview last week. “I got up in the morning and it was gone.”
Along with her account being deleted, she found out the Tillamook County Beekeepers Association Facebook account was also taken down, an account she was also the administrator. This came to a huge surprise to her and the association’s president Brad York.
“On the beekeepers’ website, we had a link to our Facebook page and it literally disappeared,” York said. “It’s too bad because we used our Facebook account to communicate with our members and for fundraising, now that’s gone.”
Jacob is an organizer in Tillamook for the Back the Blue group and would post times, places and dates she would host rallies to support local law enforcement. She also posted other political content, often times chiming in on the talk of the day. She is also a supporter of Make America Great Again, a movement started by the Trump campaign and would post things related to that group.
Jacob is not sure why Facebook targeted her accounts, especially those she was involved with that had nothing to do with her political stances, like the local beekeepers account.
“I even had a secondary account set up if anything ever happened,” Jacob said. “Within two hours of me using that account, it also went away.”
Jacob believes Facebook was somehow tracking her Internet protocol (IP) address.
“My Instagram was also disabled,” she said. “There really is no reason for this, I’ve never been in any trouble with Facebook.”
Jacob tried to appeal Facebook’s decision, but so far has not had much luck, and can’t talk to anyone at Facebook.
“This was done by some algorithm or robot, Facebook uses,” Jacob believes. “When I tried to logon to my account it took me to some browser and it said I had 30 days to contact them to try and appeal this, but they (Facebook) won’t respond.”
She’s tried to call customer service at Facebook.
“They have made it impossible to appeal,” she said. “I’ve even tried to fill out their online forms and that didn’t work.”
Jacob even went so far as to report the instances to the Better Business Bureau. Thursday morning the BBB contacted Jacob via email and told her she could resubmit the appeal forms online with Facebook. She finally received Facebook’s response, stating, “Your Facebook account was disabled because it did not follow our Community Standards,” the digital note read. “This decision can’t be reversed.”
Jacob said since she’s been organizing the local rallies, she’s become a target by some locally and beyond, she said she’s been harassed and called names.
“I had people world-wide attacking Pretty Paws Pet Grooming, stating I’m racist and anti-Semitic,” she said. “I’m quite sure one of our community members posted my information on the group, ‘Let’s get a raciest fired today’, but I disputed that with Facebook and got it turned off.”
Her mother is the administrator of the Pretty Paws Pet Grooming Facebook page, so that page is still intact.
According to reports by National Public Radio and Oregon Public Broadcasting, “Facebook is targeting content with the phrase "stop the steal," referring to false claims of election fraud. Twitter is targeting accounts that focus on the QAnon conspiracy theory. Both tech companies cited the upcoming inauguration of President Joe Biden as a reason for taking more stringent approaches to stamp out misinformation campaigns.”
York says the beekeepers association will survive Facebook’s small sting, but looks at this as a much larger issue.
“Freedom of speech is a cherished idea, as well it should be,” York said. “Those of us that live in America consider it a basic right protected by the U.S. Constitution. People have fought and died for it.”
York also said he’s not interested in starting a new Facebook page for the association or even dealing with an appeal. That may be taken care of if Jacob’s appeal is ever heard.
“Somewhere, somehow, the ideal has gone from freedom of speech to freedom from speech,” York added. “Freedom from Speech that one does not like is a threat to both pluralism and democracy itself.”
Jacob hopes the decision she got is not the final word. It’s important to her because she had years of family pictures and messages she wanted to keep forever.
“I had pictures of my grandmother before she died, my baby and husband when we first started dating,” she said. “I’d like to get those back and backed-up somewhere.”
In a virtual instance, the social media mob can wipe your digital life away, just like what happened to Jacob.
“I feel very violated, like I’ve been spied on or monitored,” Jacob added. “I try to be well spoken, I don’t want people to take things the wrong way, and I’m flabbergasted it happened to me because they are obviously targeting people who organize rallies, they want to control the speech.”