by Jake Middleton (republished with permission from ruggedamericangear.com)
If you haven’t been paying attention recently, Big Brother Facebook and their “safety” team are now going to be stepping through your computer screen and into your home. In case you missed it, the new policy is in its entirety below . . .
“Keeping you safe is our most important responsibility on Facebook.
Today, at our fifth Compassion Research Day, we announced updated tools that provide more resources, advice and support to people who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts and their concerned friends and family members.
We worked with mental health organizations Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Save.org and others on these updates, in addition to consulting with people who had lived experience with self-injury or suicide.
One of the first things these organizations discussed with us was how much connecting with people who care can help those in distress.
If someone on Facebook sees a direct threat of suicide, we ask that they contact their local emergency services immediately.
We also ask them to report any troubling content to us. We have teams working around the world, 24/7, who review any report that comes in. They prioritize the most serious reports, like self-injury, and send help and resources to those in distress.
For those who may need help we have significantly expanded the support and resources that are available to them the next time they log on to Facebook after we review a report of something they’ve posted. Besides encouraging them to connect with a mental health expert at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, we now also give them the option of reaching out to a friend, and provide tips and advice on how they can work through these feelings. All of these resources were created in conjunction with our clinical and academic partners.
We’re also providing new resources and support to the person who flagged the troubling post, including options for them to call or message their distressed friend letting them know they care, or reaching out to another friend or a trained professional at a suicide hotline for support.
These updates will roll out to everyone who uses Facebook in the U.S. over the next couple of months. We’re also working to improve our tools for those outside the U.S.”(italics added)–Rob Boyle, Facebook Product Manager & Nicole Staubli, Facebook Community Operations Safety Specialist
So what’s the problem, you ask? Why isn’t this a good thing? If it saves just one life, it will be worth it! Wrong, and here is why….
Firstly, Facebook’s new suicide reporting tool is a violation of your First Amendment right to free speech. It’s YOUR Facebook feed, say what you want on it. That doesn’t mean that if you write nasty stuff about your boss and they see it, you won’t get in trouble. But it does mean that you can say it. Facebook doesn’t block and deal with all of the nasty racist, anti-semitic, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-rich, anti-vaccination or anti-anything else…so why this?
As well, every single one of us has had a bad day. We’ve gone home, or onto our cell phone and typed out these exact words: “Today couldn’t get any worse, I’m at my breaking point,” or “Rough day…sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth it,” or “Life sucks, just got fired…what the point of waking up tomorrow?”
If you can honestly say you’ve never typed any of those things, or something close to them, then kudos. Good for you. But I know every single person on my Facebook feed has.
Well, now when one of your “friends” or your friend’s friend, or your friend’s friend friend sees this, they can hit a little “report” button, which sends one of several different notices to Big Brother Facebook. At which point Facebook decides whether to send a friendly little message to them, or even call the authorities to “check” on the person.
Excuse me? call the local authorities? This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a long time. Lets take a peek at Facebook’s video on the topic:
Did you catch the part about how if Facebook (our Motherland, if you will /sarc) deems an “imminent threat,” they will notify “local law enforcement to do a welfare check.” If you still think this is a good idea, let’s take a look at a couple of scenarios that could play out.
On the way home from work you get into a car accident. Frustrated you send a Facebook status update “Ahh my life sucks, car is totaled!!!!! might as well just give up.” Your friend, or your ex boyfriend/girlfriend, or someone who is mad at you reports you. It could even be someone who is genuinely worried, but it doesn’t matter. Facebook deems it an “Imminent threat” and by the time you get home the police are there to “check” on you.
Problematic for you yet? Let’s say you live in California, which has a law now that lets a gun owners firearms be confiscated “to allow concerned family members or law enforcement officers to petition a court for a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO).
In situations where there is sufficient evidence for a judge to believe that an individual poses a danger to self or others, the GVRO will “temporarily prohibit the individual from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and allow law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in the individual’s possession.”
This means that one “concerned” acquaintance on Facebook could (if you are a gun owner) end up having your firearms taken away for no reason, and infringe on your second amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Ever heard of Swatting? it started with online gaming. Calling a bomb threat or hostage situation in on a fellow gamer, and recording the SWAT team taking them down. This new Facebook policy seems like prime real estate for some new types of swatting activity.
Facebook accounts get hacked all the time. Who is to stop someone from hacking you, then posting all sorts of suicidal thoughts to get you reported? I could go on and on with different scenarios, but there will always be people who say “If it saves just one person it’s worth it”
But I’m sorry that just isn’t the truth. We don’t live in a “for the greater good” society. We live in America, and in American you have the freedom to say what you want, when you want it. That doesn’t mean that you have freedom of consequences of what you say. But saying something on Facebook that is about YOUR life shouldn’t have you worried that the police will show up at your door.