By: Bassler/FB Publisher
For most of you October 11th is just another day…
For me it’s the 2 year anniversary of a day that turned my life upside down.
After 5 years of working tirelessly, 7 days a week, producing meaningful content to build an audience and to finally reach a place of stability with our business, this day 2 years ago, Facebook and Twitter unexpectedly removed our accounts and unpublished our pages resulting in a loss of nearly 6 million fans. No warnings, no notifications, just gone. That decision impacted my life and the lives of the 7 employees we had to let go because we could no longer afford to pay them.
The days after the purge we received a lot of support from our fans, we did a bunch of interviews and took a few days to think about the future of TFTP. Unlike many other organizations who were unpublished that day, we decided to persevere and continue. We knew we had a long road in front of us but we felt our organization, our work and our followers were important enough to keep investing the time and energy. After all, The Free Thought Project.com
was in the top 450 websites in the US at one point and at our peak we were reaching an upwards of an average of 20-30 million people a week.
We knew when we started over we would never be able to accumulate 6 million fans again. What we didn’t expect was the next two years of incessant censorship, baseless ‘fact checks’, page “violations,” senseless blocks, account/page deletions and outright targeting by Facebook. In 2019 we lost 5 more pages, all of which were the new renditions of the pages originally deleted by Facebook.
You are probably thinking to yourself…
“So what? Just get off of Facebook.”
Sadly, that isn’t the way it works in the digital age. Facebook is by far the largest and most active social media platform on the internet. You can set up email lists, use other social media platforms and try to sell merchandise but realistically nothing on the internet pushes traffic to websites the way Facebook does. That traffic equates to ad revenue that funds most small publishers who don’t have the financial backing big news/media companies have… or at least it used to be. Facebook and google now control 70% of the digital ad market.
Publishers like ourselves were suckered onto the platform in one of the greatest bait and switches by a corporation of all time.
Once Facebook became the dominant platform, thanks to millions of page owners who created content for their Facebook pages, they no longer kept their end of the deal. That deal is and was… when you get more fans, you get more post reach. But by 2015 Facebook started to reduce reach for certain publishers and by 2016 we were seeing our reach consistently declining. It was apparent a shift was happening.
Then came the 2016 election and the ‘fake news’ mantra which was a great excuse to start removing or ‘fact checking’ certain information and accounts.
Later that year Facebook started to hire ex government employees for positions such as “news integrity team” and “social impact policy”. That was the end of any semblance of the free exchange of information on Facebook.
By 2018 Facebook created what they called the ‘war room’ (It’s real, Google it) and went to war with smaller publishers like ourselves to fight “misinformation” which is a useful catchall euphemism for eradicating information they don’t want on the platform.
Remember an attempt to sanitize the newsfeed from any information that challenges establishment narratives is a far cry from their mission statement; “To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
While these changes were happening the past few years the masses didn’t notice or care. That is because A.) Facebook framed this as an attempt to “clean up their platform” from “fake news” and “misinformation,” two terms the media had been echoing for weeks after the 2016 election while pointing the finger at the tech giant and B.) The mainstream media (aka the establishment media) cheered this move and also framed it as a positive thing rather than what it really was… censorship. Of course they did. Why would they speak out for their competitors and cover it objectively if smaller independent publishers were beginning to challenge their throne? That was never part of the plan. The plan was to reestablish legacy media as the dominant source of news (aka narrative control) without it blatantly looking like censorship and they succeeded.
Most smaller independent publishers who were once our allies no longer exist
The censorship and fight continues to this day. The past 2 months I personally have been blocked off and on from posting in our group and on our pages. They claim it’s an algorithm blocking me because I’m spamming, but I’m not. It’s just another way to silence us. Our pages have similar “strikes or violations” on them as well. When a poorly coded algorithm or A.I. bot falsely flags our content as spam, there is no recourse. There is no appeal. There is no human with sense. With each “strike” our post reach declines making our pages/group increasingly useless. Also 3 weeks ago our last full time employee had his personal account removed. No notification, no explanation. No response to the appeal. Just gone. To top it off, just 4 days ago they threatened to take down our 2 largest pages AGAIN which would be a loss of over 1 million new followers we’ve accumulated since July of last year. It never ends.
TFTP was once a thriving organization reaching millions of people every week. We once had multiple writers who had different views and perspectives writing consistently providing them jobs. We once had employees who focused on creating thought provoking graphics that would regularly go viral and powerful videos that had millions of views. Our TFTP page was a place where people could discuss counter intuitive information, controversial topics, and question government/social narratives. Our PTP page was the largest online community for police accountability activists anywhere on the internet. All of that was robbed from us this day 2 years ago today. Robbed from you and robbed from society as well. These types of conversations need to happen and should be allowed in a free society.
We are one of the last alt media organizations who consistently challenges mainstream narratives and gives a third perspective outside the left/right paradigm. However, we are struggling. We are bare bones now and stretched thin. Our posts don’t reach anyone, our pages are basically dead. Just the way FB engineered it. Soft censorship at its worst. We don’t have the money to pay writers, we don’t have money to hire someone to create elaborate videos. We are just barely getting by. The workload, stress and frustrations have worn us down. We are trying. We are trying to stay mentally stable. We are trying to stay alive, to stay afloat but every day we have new hurdles and more censorship. If things don’t change, we won’t be around much longer and the internet will have one less independent news organization furthering the information control the establishment so desperately wants back.
We finally had an opportunity to take back some power for the people and as soon as we had it, they took it back from us. Most people have no clue this transition even happened or how deep the rabbit hole goes and to be honest, most of what I’ve written above is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a war on for your mind and truth, freedom and peace is losing that war.
My question to you is after all the censorship, after all the scandals, knowing full well that you are the product and Facebook sells your private information, why do you stay on this platform?
We are only here because you are. Time to move on, folks.
It’s only going to get worse.
Disclaimer: This content does not necessarily represent the views of IWB.