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Jeremiad Against Fascist Facebook / My Departure

Jeremiad Against Fascist Facebook / My Departure July 14, 2021

This is a collection of remarks made in my last two Facebook posts before ceasing to post anything new there anymore: the first on seriously considering leaving, and the second, announcing my departure (slightly edited here and there for flow). Line breaks and asterisks imply separate comments.

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The stupid Facebook algorithm stifles exposure and harms my work. It’s very different than it used to be. It actually censors.
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I’m disgusted with Facebook and its brain-dead censorship, which leads me to my present feeling: why use it anymore? Patheos, the host of my blog, doesn’t censor one word of any of my writing. I’m completely free as a writer and an editor. And then we have this farce that is Facebook, trying to make sure no one sees anything that isn’t doctrinaire far-left, mindlessly secularist slop or is too “religious” or whatever the hell they think. I refuse to be subject to any Mind Police and Orwellian Big Brothers. It has almost become — at least in my mind; I’m not saying no one could have a different opinion — a matter of principle and standing up for free speech to seriously consider leaving this pathetic venue.
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I had a website / blog for 14 years before I ever joined Facebook. And now we have massive censorship here. It’s become a farce.
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And if I leave this time, I [probably] won’t go to MeWe, either, which has even less people, and equally scant response. I’ll just leave social media altogether; do a lot more reading . . .
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People can communicate with me and read my new material on my blog. That’s how it was from 1997 till 2011. It’s just that Facebook became “where everyone hangs out.”
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I used to get much more discussion, on Facebook. Something has changed and it ain’t me, because I’m the same old person and writer that I’ve always been. The obvious main cause is the change in the Facebook algorithm, that many have talked and complained about. People simply never see my posts in the first place [as many have told me when I announced I was leaving]. If it is 1/10th or 1/20th the amount of traffic I used to get, obviously numbers of comments and likes, etc. would be way down.
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Even this thread is indicative of the problem. People are responding and talking. That’s what I want for my apologetics articles. But it hasn’t been happening. It’s like I’m writing about soil erosion or the history of accounting in medieval Romania or something.
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Patheos told us a couple of years ago that Facebook was no longer the primary driver of page views on Patheos. It’s certainly primarily a social venue (“social media”), and increasingly like Twitter, which I have always despised and only ever used to post links. But it used to be different. I had plenty of deep, vigorous discussions on Facebook, which are now posted on my blog.
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Apologetics and evangelism is primarily why I am online. Everyone is “liking” the baby posts, but few post “likes” for the apologetics posts, and that is my dilemma. Facebook likely doesn’t censor baby posts because they aren’t political or religious.
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The question I am mulling over is whether it is worth it at all to hang around Facebook, with so little response, which I believe is directly due to Facebook censorship and algorithm policies, which are vastly different than they were ten years ago. I used to be able to raise much-needed money, for example. I did so successfully for three straight years. It was easy and fast. Then all of a sudden I couldn’t; just like that. It simply didn’t work.
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Someone said in a private message that I was “whining” about people and expressing “hurt feelings” in what was described as a “diatribe.” Others may feel the same way, for all I know [though not one other person has expressed this, after I wrote about leaving]. It’s not true. I’m “whining” about Facebook, not people, and publicly wondering whether it is worth my time. I’m being transparent and honest. Facebook is not all of life. I’ve been there ten years. My website / blog was operative for 14 years before that. I’ve never been active on Twitter.
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It’s a matter of stewardship: what to put one’s effort into. It’s not a matter of Facebook vs. nothing at all. I’m already on my blog, and have been since 1997. And I put out four articles a month at National Catholic Register. If someone likes my stuff, all they have to do is go to either place. Every evangelist / apologist obviously wants to reach as many people as they can. If it’s not happening in one venue, you go somewhere else. It’s a shame that Facebook has become what it is and that this has to be an issue at all. Ten years ago this would have never crossed my mind, because it was so vastly different.
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If I post a bunch of stuff [on Facebook], it’s usually memes, to try to generate interest that my apologetics posts generate very little of. It’s a symptom of the problem. I’m reduced to looking for clever or cute or profound memes. Otherwise, I generally link to two blog articles a day. If I don’t do memes, it’ll be a ghost town around here. That’s why I did them in the first place. Nothing was working to generate any interest except for memes and baby pictures. But I’ve already almost made up my mind to leave.
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This is how little feedback I’ve been getting. I will list the last seven blog articles of mine and how many likes and shares they received:
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1) Atheist Unwittingly (?) Confirms the Usual Atheist Worldview (7-6-21): 9 / 1
2) Chiastic Literary Genre in Genesis (7-5-21): 6 / 1
3) Goliath’s Height: Six Feet 9 Inches, 7 Feet 8, or 9 Feet 9? (7-4-21): 5 / 3
4) Chiasmus & “Redundancy” in Flood Stories (7-4-21): 2 / 0
5) Local Flood & Atheist Ignorance of Christian Thought (7-2-21): 10 / 2
6) Length of Noah’s Flood Redux (7-2-21): 1 / 0
7) Noah’s Flood: 40 or 150 Days or Neither? (7-2-21): 3 / 0
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Average likes per post = 5.1 (with 5000 friends and about 2,800 followers)
Average shares per post = 1
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This is exactly the problem. Why have 5000 friends and 2800 followers if they never see your posts? It’s like pouring water into a bucket with a big hole in the bottom. It’s become a farce.
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This is the busiest thread here that I’ve had in a long time, besides baby photos and prayer requests, and it’s telling that it has nothing to do with apologetics, but rather, my seriously considering leaving. That’s what it took to get any significant feedback. It should be this busy all the time, and it used to often be. It’s ultra-frustrating, and I seem to have reached the end of my patience with Facebook.
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I don’t see any good reason to stay. I want people to visit and comment on my blog, where there is actual freedom of speech, and where I am the moderator, not the idiots at Facebook.
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It’s very difficult to leave Facebook. Believe me, I know. I’m sitting in my room typing most days, with all friends and family at least 50 miles away. We chose to move here and love it, but it’s more isolated. So it was tough to leave Facebook, because I loved what relatively little social interaction I could have. Now most of my interactions are with atheists and reactionary Catholics who hate my guts. LOL
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[up to this point I hadn’t absolutely decided to leave. Then I did make that decision, because no one could give me a good reason (in my opinion) not to leave]
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Farewell to Censorship and Oppression of My Work
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1) The Time Has Come / Not About Friends, Whom I Love
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I leave out of principle. I love my friends and followers here. This has nothing to do with you. You have supported my work, encouraged me, prayed for me, made lovely comments about my family and new granddaughters and our new country home. I reiterate: this has nothing to do with you. I’m not complaining about people. I don’t want to be misunderstood about that, in an already painful and difficult situation. I’m disgusted with Facebook and its ludicrous and unethical policies, and refuse to be subjected to it anymore. It’s an insult to my intelligence and my vocation and hard work.
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2) Tired of “Writing in a Bubble”
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Rather, it’s the fact that Facebook is systematically censoring my posts (i.e., through its algorithm and suppression of posts with external links), so that you never see them in your feed. This was expressed over and over in the previous thread: “I never see your posts in my feed.” I can’t express how immensely frustrating this is, seeing that I continue to work my tail off producing apologetics and other theological writings, which then wallow in obscurity because of these outrageous policies.
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3) I Tried to Oppose Big Brother, to No Avail!
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I sought to overcome this deliberate suppression of my work in every way I knew how, by putting up popular baby pictures, catchy memes, informing my readers that they can make me one of their “Favorites” within the Facebook structure, writing about the pope, sexual issues, and liturgical matters (the three topics that, alone, seem to draw much attention), deliberately omitting links so that posts will be seen in the first place, asking people to sign up on my blog, etc. Nothing has worked.
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4) The Final Straw That Broke the Apologist’s Back
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The final straw was this past week, when my previous seven blog posts drew an average of five “likes” and one share each. It wasn’t just the holiday weekend. This trend has been getting worse and worse for years now. Facebook is clearly vastly different. Many have noted this. It’s not me just imagining this or engaging in conspiratorialism or what-not. The changes are real, and devastating to those like myself, whose living has directly depended on the Internet and social media. The Internet made my career possible, and continues to sustain it. So here I am, after 24 years of continuous website-writing and blogging, with now over 3,600 posted articles and 50 books published (four of them, bestsellers in the field, and eleven “officially” published) — I think it is the most comprehensive and “encyclopedic” Catholic apologetics blog online — , and Facebook has censored my announcements of posts to such an alarming extent that new announced posts receive virtually no attention, despite having 5,000 Facebook friends and an additional 2,728 followers. This is a disgrace. It ought not be that way, and it literally harms my livelihood, which has always partially depended on generous donations, as well as book and article royalties, and several part-time jobs I have taken on in addition to my full-time Catholic apologetics work since December 2001.
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5) Please Take One Minute to Sign Up and Receive Notice of My Blog Posts
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Anyone who wants to follow my work can easily do so by signing up to receive notice of my blog posts. It takes one minute to do. Just go to the upper right of the sidebar [if you are reading this, you are already “there”], and sign up to receive notifications of my new posts by simply posting your email address. No one (who is interested) has to miss any new post I write. 90% of what I did here was simply cross-post my new blog articles or National Catholic Register articles. On my Patheos blog, I have complete editorial control. Not one word of any of my articles is ever censored. We do get paid per pageview. It’s not much (believe me: usually only about $50-70 a month), but it’s something, and the more people I can get to sign up and regularly read, the more income I will have, coming from Patheos. So you can help me in that way also. Please go right now and sign up! And thank you beforehand for doing so . . .
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6 ) Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees (Wish it Did!)
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I continue to be in need of financial support. I was saying for months that I just needed to make it to Social Security. That has certainly been crucial in our budget, but with a new 15-year mortgage, much of it goes straight to that, and we only have a little more than enough to pay our bills every month. So if you value my work, and (especially) if you have been helped by it yourself, please consider supporting it. This enables you to directly participate in my apostolate of apologetics and evangelism. See the details of the many ways you can contribute, including possible 100% tax deduction and the ability to set up monthly PayPal payment / donations. See also my “Literary Resume”: a complete listing of all of my various apologetics credentials, published articles and books, affiliations, etc.
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7) E-Mail and Contact / Searching My Blog
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My email address is apologistdave@gmail.com
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I have never tried to be “inaccessible” as an apologist. On the other hand, I have been very aware of the stewardship of time. My policy, accordingly, through the years, has been to produce apologetics material that is able to provide some sort of answer for just about every major topic that comes up. There is usually no need to write to me personally to ask if I have written about such-and-such topic. My blog has convenient drop-down menus, leading to more than 50 separate topical web pages. And it has an excellent search function on the sidebar (I use it myself all the time). Now, if you use those methods and still can’t find what you are looking for, I’ll be happy to guide you to whatever I have that may be useful.
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Facebook has been an outlet for socializing and keeping in contact with friends for ten years, and I loved that part of it. You can still talk to me on my blog, though I ask that you confine yourself to the topic of any given post. I can correspond to an extent, but I have to limit that, for obvious reasons. I can’t writing individually at any length to potentially many hundreds of people. I have to maintain a balance there. Nor have I ever tried to do “personal counseling.” That’s not my thing. I’m a teacher and educator and debater. But I’m “out here.” I’m not disappearing or falling off the radar screen. Facebook is not the sum total of human interaction. It’s only existed since 2004. The Internet itself only goes back about thirty years. We all managed to get along before it arrived. I had a website or blog for 14 years before I joined Facebook in 2011 and got along fine. We used to have very extensive conversations in the comboxes.
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8) National Catholic Register
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I write four columns a month for this well-known, orthodox Catholic magazine. I collect all of these on one page (currently numbering 255 total), and you can also see my author page at NCR.
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9) 50 Books. I Hope You Will Buy a Few
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Here is the link to my books page, with all the information you need about all the books, and all purchase links.
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10) My “Personal Page”
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This multi-faceted page includes anything and everything you would hope or want to know about me, and has all the collections of baby pictures and family information. I’m a big family man and I believe I am married to the best wife in the history of the world (Judy). I have four wonderful children (all rock-solid Catholics) and now two fabulous daughters-in-law and two beautiful granddaughters. My life has been great lately. Just in the last year alone we found our country dream house, became grandparents, and started receiving Social Security.
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I’ve tried to make my work as accessible and visible as I could, with very little financial resources to do so. This doesn’t stand or fall based on whether I am on Facebook. I was doing it for 15 years before the Internet existed (engaging in activities like street-witnessing at the University of Michigan all through the 80s: dealing with the “hard cases” then, just as now!), and another 15 years after that before I joined Facebook (three-quarters of the entire length of my ministry is “non-Facebook”). I was published in paper magazines in 1993 before I went online, and finished my first book in 1996, just two months after I entered the world of the Internet. This is why Facebook is not the essence of my work. It’s a matter of perspective.
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I’ll miss my friends, but those who want to still be friends are free to seek me out where I continue to be, online, or in person, as the case may be. I’d love to do more things in person, in fact: go back to street witnessing, have more discussion groups, get together with friends in person more often (we are at least fifty miles away from almost all of our existing friends, so it has become more difficult). That would be nice. This doesn’t have to be the “end” of anything. It’s just Facebook. I’m still here (in this world) doing my thing, as I always have. I’m not disappearing or going away; just ending one chapter of my life that has ended up being a farce because it no longer is what it used to be.
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If Facebook had simply kept to its original, non-politicized, non-fascist vision, I wouldn’t be writing this post.
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I easily raised $5000 on Facebook for three straight Septembers (2012-2014) and then I simply couldn’t in 2015: that’s how much things changed. So I can say for sure that Facebook has literally cost me at the very least $30,000 in lost income (which is a ton for folks as low income as we are), but it’s far more than just that. I would have had a lot more exposure, leading to many more book sales and maybe more financial supporters.
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As I said, it’s a matter of personal principle for me to leave Facebook. I don’t think it will affect much, because I get virtually no attention to my posts here. But even if it does, so be it. I have to follow my principles and be true to myself. I have to leave, per my explanations. It’s not fun; I wish it were otherwise, but it’s a necessity.
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I had hoped there would be a mass exodus from Facebook, but it didn’t happen. If people had been as harmed as I have been on Facebook, they would have left, just as I have decided to do. We should be sad that Facebook has become a farce and an outrage.
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If Trump’s lawsuit against big Tech means that Facebook stops censoring posts, then I would and could come back. I’m not sure it would mean that, though, even if he won the case. They couldn’t ban people, but could still have their notorious algorithm (I’m assuming). It still might not wipe out their algorithm and hostility to links. I don’t think it’s likely to improve the problem that has forced me to leave (following my principles). Seems like we can never unscramble the “Facebook egg”, though: it’s become so corrupt and drunk with the power of trying to control others’ thoughts and expression of them.
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I have nothing against these dinky competitors [Parler, MeWe, etc.]; they just have relatively few people, and my screaming need is more exposure for my work, so that doesn’t help me; doesn’t solve the fundamental problem.
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I don’t see leaving Facebook as “giving in”, but rather, opposing. I refuse to be subject to their censorship. I’m a writer and this is my living, and I will not subject myself anymore to fascist know-nothingism. In my opinion, Christians and conservatives and pro-lifers should be leaving Facebook en masse. But I understand that it’s where people are and is good for purely social interaction (as long as no one dares post a link with a non-leftist opinion). I couldn’t bring myself to leave till now, so I totally understand people not wanting to leave.
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Basically, what I’m doing is going back to the period before Facebook existed. There was such a time (it was founded in 2004)! Blogs were all the rage, and websites before them. No one messed with our freedom of speech or censored our posts.
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Eventually, if enough of us reject this nonsense of Facebook, then we can do what we used to do somewhere else. If enough go to MeWe, I’ll give it a shot there. But I can’t link to my posts there. That’s one frustration.
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I will not be exploited by left-wing fascists. On my blog I am completely free. Whoever is interested in my work can sign up [upper right sidebar] to receive notices of new posts (takes one minute). I was a full-time Catholic apologist for ten years before I ever got on Facebook, and I was doing Christian apologetics for 30 years. I was fine before it existed and I’m fine now after I have rejected its fascism and censorship of my writing and other expressed opinions (memes, etc.).
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Related Reading
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Photo credit: Hermann (5-2-15) [PixabayPixabay License]
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Summary: I give various reasons for why I became completely disgusted with fascist Facebook policies of censorship, & suppression of non-left wing, conservative, Christian, & pro-life views.
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