The PJ Tatler

Facebook Follies: Blocked for Saying "Chigger"

Map of the USA, illustration.

It started yesterday, when SF author Michael Z Williamson was blocked by Facebook for 12 hours for using the word “chigger” in a post.  When his twelve hours were up — following massive derision against Facebook by all his friends — his block expired. He was promptly blocked again.

I wrote the FB press address asking the following:

[Press contact], it appears Williamson has been blocked *again* for using the word “chigger”. I continue to be interested in this and expect to go to press with it tomorrow. I’d very much like to have Facebook’s response. I’d also like to ask

1. Is saying “chigger” really more offensive than the “Kill Zimmerman” page that Facebook refuses to remove?  See this facebook search:

2. Is “chigger” really more offensive than the multiple uses of the “n-word”?

3. What is Facebook’s procedure for dealing with reports of abuse? Are the people responding to the reports fluent English speakers in the case of reported pages in English?

Facebook responded to me as follows:

Mr. Williamson’s post was removed in error and once we were alerted of the mistake we worked quickly to rectify the situation. As our team processes more than one million reports each week, we occasionally make a mistake. We worked to rectify the error as soon as we were notified. We apologize for the inconvenience caused due to the removal of this content, and we have already taken steps to prevent this from happening in the future. Additionally, we have removed any blocks on associated accounts.

Williamson says:

I’m glad they were able to resolve it on review. They unbanned me two hours early.

I understand facebook likes chiggers. I don’t. It’s nothing personal. I believe chiggers have a right to exist. I believe nature has a reason for chiggers. I have never suggested chiggers are less respectable than other arthropods, or that they’re not entitled to exactly the same treatment as others. I just don’t like them personally. I keep my yard spic and span and would hate their presence.

And if one were to attack me, I would feel perfectly justified in killing it in self defense.

It’s also important for everyone to be aware of this chink in Facebook’s armor.

But wait, there’s more. Erin Palette was also blocked this morning, after Facebook responded to me, for the following bit of doggerel (reconstructed by Palette from memory, since Facebook of course removed it):

“I was once niggardly with a jigger full of chiggers. Tigger wanted that jigger with a vigor, but I refused. A Tigger with a jigger full of chiggers is a digger with rigor.” Something like that.

Basically, all the silly words I could think of that rhymed with chigger.

Palette comments:

English, Facebook, do you speak it? “Niggardly” is not a racist word, as a brief Googleing would indicate. Kindly grow a sense of humor along with a larger vocabulary.

I’ve asked Facebook for further comment, and clarification on my questions.  I’ll let you know what comes of that.