This image got me BANNED from Facebook

Last month I posted the above image as a commentary on a Facebook post. The image is a caricature of a campaign poster in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, on which a veiled Muslim woman and a Jew are kissing in front of the iconic Erasmus bridge.

Image Volkskrant.nl

I greatly dislike the puritanical culture that Facebook imposes on its users. Of course, it has every right to do so as an enterprise operating in a free market. But such ‘blocks’ that last 3 days after the first violation, 7 days after the second and ‘even longer’ after more offences, become a serious barrier for those of us who are used to slightly less puritanical limits to their free speech.

These bans convince me that we need a Commons Facebook that differs from the current commercial platform in three ways:
1) It has no central authority, hence no universal ‘community standards’. There can be several coexisting communities with slightly different standards;
2) It has no incentive of profit extraction. The platform shall be paid for by public funding (like the British National Health Service);
3) Since it is tax-funded, decisions about the platform will be made by a representative democracy.

Facebook has too much power. Its good intention to ban images it considers offensive are promoting a very specific and dominating puritanical culture at the expense of minority views. It makes these values appear as universalities, especially to young social media users, to whom a block from the platform is akin to ostracism. First, they are afraid of speaking up against the arbitrary morals of the all-powerful Facebook, then it becomes unthinkable to do so. There is no need for mind control. The new generation of users that Facebook is raising, will voluntarily censor themselves. They will incorporate the mores of the behemoth, and the fear of becoming an outcast will make them aggressive against those who violate the ‘community standards’.

You have been warned.

This image got me BANNED from Facebook was originally published on Meandering home

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Facebook Psycho

I friended you, you didn’t friend me back,
which left me feeling powerless indeed:
despite my wounded longing to attack,
the software wouldn’t mark you “enemied.”
And so, of course, I had to move offline
to properly avenge your cyber-slap—
with help from this devoted blade of mine.
There’s nothing like an old-school killer app. – Melissa Balmain

Facebook Psycho was originally published on Meandering home

Daily Social Media Fairness Sessions!

Imagine you’re a wealthy shop owner and you hear about this “thing”, this new technology that strongly amplifies every voice raised on it and thus promises to lure paying customers into your business. Wow, you think, I don’t wanna miss this boat, and you ask how much it would cost. “It’s free”, some bearded hippies yawn at you and that makes you feel uncomfortable. You want a decent service from this “thing” and you will pay for it. “Alright”, a trimmed hipster tells you, “here’s the deal”. And you sign a contract with the new “thing” which will boost your sales eventually.

The “thing” is of course the internet, and what we have to understand is that the already-powerful will benefit more from it than the barely visible “grass roots” initiatives, no matter if they are a roadside fruit stall or a community center. The tiny initiatives don’t have a voice so there is nothing that can be amplified by our internet machine. Instead, we see Big Brands taking over this allegedly power-neutral web and benefit more from it than our beloved grassroots non-profits, even proportionally more.

The so-called “flatness of the world” proclaimed by Tom Friedman because he can travel anywhere on a whimp and marvel at multinational business deals, is a misleading metaphore at best. If we have something left in us that discounts the cynical “everything is fatally connected” and let the empathy with real people speak, then, o then… Then we should help the grassroots initiatives, the small rural hospitals, the women’s cooperatives, the peace groups, the environmental protesters, the orphan homes, the community art – everything that isn’t yet affected by the acid of hypercapitalist logic eating away its ties to land and life.

A way to do this is to take the very cynical neoliberal propaganda of “leveling the playing field” seriously. We should leverage their voices in order to make them found by skilled idealists who can help. If we say “it’s all about connections” we mean “it’s all about power” – and without a fistful of it you don’t exist. But if we stay determined even the powerless can be found. We just need to put them in a magic telephone book.

I mean our internet platform “kindmankind.net” and it’s for that platform that I do a daily “Social Media Fairness Session”. Because I think these sessions are worth your time this article is about them. So, how do I go about it? Let’s say I want to list some grassroots initiatives in the country of Chad. Google is of course a handy tool but we all know it has some built-in bias that is detrimental to the grassroots, and it doesn’t give us trusted results. So I choose couchsurfing.org to be my starting point. As pointed out on charitytravel.blogspot.com, where my journey started, the trusted profiles of couchsurfing can be of great value for small grassroots initiatives.

A careful keyword search yields a list of NGO directors, well-intended individuals and independent volunteers who might like to be listed on and found through our platform. So I write them a humble e-mail about it. Then I ask some users of flickr.com if we can use photos of little known countries like Chad. Perhaps there’s even some group on facebook.com or linkedin.com, I’ll contact them. Then I look at existing websites that are not open and use google to identify the grassroots stuff they are listing. They all receive an e-mail as well. Everything put together, we have a free and open map of the world (today including Chad) full of dots depicting fragile yet worthy contributions to a better world.

What do we do with this listing? This is the second phase of the Social Media Fairness Session, and consists of publishing to the social web (facebook, twitter, digg, del.icio.us, hellotxt, statusnet, skype, wikipedia, feedburner, twitterfeed, socialoomph, google+, buzz, idealist), and inspiring people to help where it’s needed. It includes writing and translating articles about the concept, reformulating it in many ways so as to reach a diverse audience of potential enthusiasts who take this idea and add their own. It includes traveling ourselves and demonstrating the spirit, to practice what we preach. And it inevitably leads to getting a little bit crazy, in the end.

Daily Social Media Fairness Sessions!

Imagine you’re a wealthy shop owner and you hear about this “thing”, this new technology that strongly amplifies every voice raised on it and thus promises to lure paying customers into your business. Wow, you think, I don’t wanna miss this boat, and you ask how much it would cost. “It’s free”, some bearded hippies yawn at you and that makes you feel uncomfortable. You want a decent service from this “thing” and you will pay for it. “Alright”, a trimmed hipster tells you, “here’s the deal”. And you sign a contract with the new “thing” which will boost your sales eventually.

The “thing” is of course the internet, and what we have to understand is that the already-powerful will benefit more from it than the barely visible “grass roots” initiatives, no matter if they are a roadside fruit stall or a community center. The tiny initiatives don’t have a voice so there is nothing that can be amplified by our internet machine. Instead, we see Big Brands taking over this allegedly power-neutral web and benefit more from it than our beloved grassroots non-profits, even proportionally more.

The so-called “flatness of the world” proclaimed by Tom Friedman because he can travel anywhere on a whimp and marvel at multinational business deals, is a misleading metaphore at best. If we have something left in us that discounts the cynical “everything is fatally connected” and let the empathy with real people speak, then, o then… Then we should help the grassroots initiatives, the small rural hospitals, the women’s cooperatives, the peace groups, the environmental protesters, the orphan homes, the community art – everything that isn’t yet affected by the acid of hypercapitalist logic eating away its ties to land and life.

A way to do this is to take the very cynical neoliberal propaganda of “leveling the playing field” seriously. We should leverage their voices in order to make them found by skilled idealists who can help. If we say “it’s all about connections” we mean “it’s all about power” – and without a fistful of it you don’t exist. But if we stay determined even the powerless can be found. We just need to put them in a magic telephone book.

I mean our internet platform “kindmankind.net” and it’s for that platform that I do a daily “Social Media Fairness Session”. Because I think these sessions are worth your time this article is about them. So, how do I go about it? Let’s say I want to list some grassroots initiatives in the country of Chad. Google is of course a handy tool but we all know it has some built-in bias that is detrimental to the grassroots, and it doesn’t give us trusted results. So I choose couchsurfing.org to be my starting point. As pointed out on charitytravel.blogspot.com, where my journey started, the trusted profiles of couchsurfing can be of great value for small grassroots initiatives.

A careful keyword search yields a list of NGO directors, well-intended individuals and independent volunteers who might like to be listed on and found through our platform. So I write them a humble e-mail about it. Then I ask some users of flickr.com if we can use photos of little known countries like Chad. Perhaps there’s even some group on facebook.com or linkedin.com, I’ll contact them. Then I look at existing websites that are not open and use google to identify the grassroots stuff they are listing. They all receive an e-mail as well. Everything put together, we have a free and open map of the world (today including Chad) full of dots depicting fragile yet worthy contributions to a better world.

What do we do with this listing? This is the second phase of the Social Media Fairness Session, and consists of publishing to the social web (facebook, twitter, digg, del.icio.us, hellotxt, statusnet, skype, wikipedia, feedburner, twitterfeed, socialoomph, google+, buzz, idealist), and inspiring people to help where it’s needed. It includes writing and translating articles about the concept, reformulating it in many ways so as to reach a diverse audience of potential enthusiasts who take this idea and add their own. It includes traveling ourselves and demonstrating the spirit, to practice what we preach. And it inevitably leads to getting a little bit crazy, in the end.

October 5. Last week of preparations.

The ultimate goal could not possibly be something else than our own happiness, because it is through our sensory systems, our nervous systems, our backbones, and our brains that we experience it. If we are denying this and proclaim out loud how we could, oh, live off the mere view of a smiling child at his mother’s breast,- then we are parasites on their happiness, distorting reality to suit our ideologist needs.

“Great power comes with great responsibility”. There you have a quote from Spiderman. Spiderman! And what about money! Great wealth is nothing but great power. Money buys everything from almond chocolate to Siamese whores, the Opel imperium and goose liver. Nobody is saying that wealth comes with responsibility for the world. And the wealthy don’t seem to feel responsible for anything but their own capital. Such a virtuosos they are how they manage to depict this alleged “responsibility” as a real burden! How they must suffer if the bathroom marble of their second villa turns out to be not tax-deductible. And how responsible they are to buy life insurance so that their financial independence of the rest of the world takes on messianic proportions. We can only look up baffled to those great minds, as their divine responsibility rains down on the land like spring drizzle.

October 5. Last week of preparations. was originally published on Meandering home

October 5. Last week of preparations.

The ultimate goal could not possibly be something else than our own happiness, because it is through our sensory systems, our nervous systems, our backbones, and our brains that we experience it. If we are denying this and proclaim out loud how we could, oh, live off the mere view of a smiling child at his mother’s breast,- then we are parasites on their happiness, distorting reality to suit our ideologist needs.

“Great power comes with great responsibility”. There you have a quote from Spiderman. Spiderman! And what about money! Great wealth is nothing but great power. Money buys everything from almond chocolate to Siamese whores, the Opel imperium and goose liver. Nobody is saying that wealth comes with responsibility for the world. And the wealthy don’t seem to feel responsible for anything but their own capital. Such a virtuosos they are how they manage to depict this alleged “responsibility” as a real burden! How they must suffer if the bathroom marble of their second villa turns out to be not tax-deductible. And how responsible they are to buy life insurance so that their financial independence of the rest of the world takes on messianic proportions. We can only look up baffled to those great minds, as their divine responsibility rains down on the land like spring drizzle.

October 5. Last week of preparations.

The ultimate goal could not possibly be something else than our own happiness, because it is through our sensory systems, our nervous systems, our backbones, and our brains that we experience it. If we are denying this and proclaim out loud how we could, oh, live off the mere view of a smiling child at his mother’s breast,- then we are parasites on their happiness, distorting reality to suit our ideologist needs.

“Great power comes with great responsibility”. There you have a quote from Spiderman. Spiderman! And what about money! Great wealth is nothing but great power. Money buys everything from almond chocolate to Siamese whores, the Opel imperium and goose liver. Nobody is saying that wealth comes with responsibility for the world. And the wealthy don’t seem to feel responsible for anything but their own capital. Such a virtuosos they are how they manage to depict this alleged “responsibility” as a real burden! How they must suffer if the bathroom marble of their second villa turns out to be not tax-deductible. And how responsible they are to buy life insurance so that their financial independence of the rest of the world takes on messianic proportions. We can only look up baffled to those great minds, as their divine responsibility rains down on the land like spring drizzle.