Towleroad caught up with gay Pennsylvania lawmaker Brian Sims after he made headlines for being banned from the social media platform after sharing a hateful message he had received.
As many media outlets reported last week, Sims was banned from Facebookfor sharing a screenshot of a comment wherein a woman named Jill Freb said, “You get out f——.”
Sims said the worst thing about being blocked on social media and then seeing a story like this explode everywhere was not being able to respond directly on Facebook, although he could still express his views on Twitter.
After discovering he’d been banned from Facebook, Sims shared the message on Twitter, writing: “Facebook just banned ME for this.”
Sims noted that the homophobic message came from a user who had prominently advertised their religion on their profile, and said on Twitter: “The Venn Diagram of people who call me a f—–, and people who self identify as ‘Christian,’ is just a single circle. Christians, why is that?”
His Facebook account was subsequently reinstated although Sims still hasn’t heard why he was banned in the first place.
So I guess the advantage of knowing a few people at Facebook, some journalists who saw this post, and a whole lot of organizations that interact with Facebook is that my account was reactivated. THANKS! No explanation. No response yet from @facebook. What. About. Everyone. Else? pic.twitter.com/mZd3YwrBL1— Brian Sims (@BrianSimsPA) January 16, 2019
For Sims it was a frustrating but teachable experience.
He told Towleroad that he he was particularly moved to hear comments from women of color who expressed frustration over the algorithm to determine what gets you banned or blocked and the in ability to get a response from the company, “The important take away here has clearly been that what happened to me is happening not just to other LGBTQ people but to women and people of color especially. Targeted harassment and pointed slurs seem to be surviving whatever review process Facebook says they are using, while the recipients and reporters of the harassment seem to be systematically experiencing either no responses or negative reactions.”
Sims’ experience has led him to conclude that, “Ultimately, what I think we all want is for Facebook to be transparent and proactive, to step up their game. It feels too much like we’re getting an “aww shucks” response from a dot.com startup than a substantive response from a multi-billion dollar, multi-national tech/comms behemoth.”