There was a man, of libertarian leanings, who found that he enjoyed talking politics. His business being business, he was a subscriber to the Wall Street Journal, and in time found himself drawn to the editorials published daily therein. He soon discovered that the comments sections under those editorials were frequented by a decent number of reasonably erudite folks, and in particular found a “political home” under a column written by James Taranto.

He was not alone, and many of these folks, the man included, found their way to Facebook, where a group was formed by the column’s fans. That group grew and grew, exceeding ten thousand members. Most were lurkers, but many were regulars, and the man enjoyed discourse there even more than he did at the newspaper’s website. His political on-line presence shifted from the latter to the former in due course.

Trump came along, upsetting apple carts and smashing china, and there was much debate about the presidential candidate the man had dubbed the Untethered Orange Id. At some point in that scrum, it became clear that the group of Fans had established itself as rather unapologetically pro-Trump, and the more vocal skeptics, of which the man was one, grew tired of this. Another group was birthed, this one smaller, out of one cluster of these skeptics.

That group became the man’s new political home, and he had the pleasure of making and befriending many fine people from around the nation. It wasn’t all wine and roses – things rarely are – and as the group’s “identity” evolved, some left, and others joined. The group remained Trump-skeptic, and some members grew ever more so as time went on.

For reasons not having to do with politics, the man came to leave that group, a bit before the 2020 election, but he maintained contact with many of the friends he had made there.

So, he was shocked and saddened to find out that, in the wake of the Capitol riot, the group was, as the cool kids say, “Zucked” by Facebook. While the man was not a member at the time, he heard that discussion of the riot, including the sharing of some videos, was believed to be the cause. This despite the near-certitude that everyone therein condemned the riot, condemned the rioters, and mocked the rabble that thought it was a good idea. This Zucking happened without, to the best of the man’s knowledge, any warning or notice, and the group’s administrators had their Facebook accounts wiped out.

The group attempted to reconstitute, but apparently the Facebook overlords frowned upon this, and imposed restrictions on the new gathering, and on many of the former members’ Facebook activities overall.

Yesterday, the man started receiving messages and seeing Facebook postings from friends about a wave of restrictions. Many had been banned from posting in groups until January 23rd. Many had been banned from forming groups until January 23rd. Some had been put in “Facebook Jail” until January 23rd.

What is January 23rd? It’s the Saturday after Biden’s inauguration. Seems that Facebook has decided to go into bunker mode, smothering anyone who its artificial intelligence could connect-the-dots to… I can’t even figure what – talking about the Capitol riot? Daring to share information about it, no matter if accompanied by criticism, disdain, or mockery? Mere association with that Zucked group was, apparently, enough for the AI to put people in time-out.

Yes, indeed, Facebook locked down a passel of friends, all of them sane, reasonable, intelligent people who bear no resemblance whatsoever to the Capitol mob, to all-in Trump loyalists, or to any sort of fringe types, for what I can only guess is a massive attempt at pre-emption of the platform being used to plan Bad Things around Biden’s inauguration.

This in the wake of locking Trump himself out of Twitter and Facebook, and the sledgehammer smashing of Twitter alternative Parler by Google, Apple, and Amazon. Parler’s defenestration seems to have originated in its “human moderation” policy, wherein stuff would be excised after the fact, based on actual eyeballs, rather than pre-screened by AI (that just proved itself to be grossly not up to the task).

The man realized yesterday that this is probably the end of the line for free political discourse on mainstream social media. The precedent has been set: to be a social media platform, a company will need to build in a pre-approval system for all that is put forth by its users, or risk being shut out of access to the Internet by other companies, who themselves will forever hereafter feel pressure to keep themselves “clean.” That this is defensive in nature is not hard to conclude. It has been a fact for decades that businesses are skittish and engage in proactive defense, out of fear of both the government and social activists. It has also been a fact for decades that businesses are eager to ingratiate themselves with those in power, lest the latter decide tot turn the blunt-force machine that is government against them.

However, people want the ability to talk freely amongst themselves, congenially, with depth of conversation possible, and apart from the viciously nasty open Internet where many with no social grace who realize they can be assholes without getting punched in the face rummage around in search of someone to verbally accost. In other words, there is a demand for a product that Big Tech has decided to no longer provide.

What will emerge? When will it emerge? The man cannot surmise. But, market forces are relentless, and human ingenuity is almost boundless, so the man expects that the emergence will happen. The first to emerge may not be the one that wins out, and the man knows that a shift away from his current platform will take time and effort, but based on this week’s events, the man expects that to be the outcome.

If you have read this far, the man suggests that you take a moment and register at or subscribe to the blog. While the content herein has never sought to incite – indeed, such is contrary to the libertarian Non-Aggression Principle – we’ve all seen that social media’s AI is wildly imperfect in culling out the legitimately bad stuff, and the pages and accounts where these postings are shared could be Zucked at any time, for any reason or no reason.

Meanwhile, if you are not OK with all this behavior, take a moment and find the man or the blog page on MeWe. It may not be the answer, but it can be the answer for now.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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