Chapter 22: Fighting the Facebook Silence
Empress & her Spectacle: Fighting the Facebook Silence
Everytime Myspace comes out my lips, i’m aged in my siblings eyes. They chuckle and shake their heads thinking i’m some variety of aged. Worse, with facebook quickly becoming obsolete my dedication to the app seems dim. The ups and downs of my presence on Facebook also persuade me to perhaps quit it all together. For one Facebook doesn’t fulfill its promise to small businesses or those using the site to network and engage with an audience. Second, its treatment of communities with minority presence is absolutely trash.
Sometime during the month of august, Facebook algorithms updated in a manner that reported, flagged, or removed images containing any form of a black person. This included digital art and paintings. The overall outrage and response from the facebook community was met with little to nothing from Facebook itself. There was no explanation or reason given to why this happened to the Black users on facebook. What does that tell the people of color on facebook who are using this platform, to be brand ambassadors, artis, writers, musicians and etc. when their content is flagged and removed in seconds but a video of police brutality or white supremacy is circulated twice over and makes it into movies like Black Klansman? It tells us that facebook is not a space for anyone with a melanin count.
It is getting significantly harder for people of color with interests, passions, or jobs that require social media as a tool for networking. Many self-made artists are relying on places like Facebook to promote their content and engage with a global audience. Is it working? From my personal study...no its not working until you dish out money. Even when that money is dished out, the return is not worth it. Supposedly their algorithms guarantee engagement, but where is it Facebook? Where are the ads featuring people of color? The target audience should be reached once money is paid, but its not.
I tested out the ad opportunity facebook provided for Facebook pages and businesses. As someone marketing both myself and my brand, logically I thought Facebook would have the most reach. (Dusts off microphone and yells) I WAS WRONG. Despite paying money for a short ad run, the engagement and likes facebook marketed at the price did not come at all. So I was left with less money and two new likes. Now, marketing is done through hashtags and whatever other means I can do myself. Attempting to invest in Facebook is foolhardy and obviously a waste of time for anyone who isn’t white. Now the question is why.
Taking into consideration that an entire people, and you know which people to whom i refer, have a headstart in success and wealth generationally speaking I would like to think that in a system that offers the dream of being self-made that it should be easy for people of color, and more specific black people to rise within social media. Especially considering that Black people are the driving force and inspiration for producing creative content across several genres and medias. Yet the opposite happens. Instead, we have that same group of people I mentioned, constantly profiting off culture, style, and ideas rooted in the communities of color. Profiting and gaining via social media. What sense does this make. What an average white person can create will reach and gain via social media platforms will take years for the best of the best in the black community to achieve. Why is there a gap? Why isn’t our presence and talents circulating in platforms that are meant for everyone? I’m constantly questioning why in platforms that have global reach why do I see so little of my people and communities. Perhaps that's a problem that people don’t consider in their everyday toilet stroll on social media.
It took moments like #Blackcosplayerhere or even earlier, #28daysofBlackcosplayers to show me how little I saw of black creatives within my social media feed. Ever since these trends and others like it, I am forever grateful for having access to people that I look like for one, two can relate to, and three can look up to. On the flipside, because of those tags I also bore witness to how little the people I interact with via social media share creative content and visuals of black people, or other people of color to their feed. Instead focusing on sharing horrific memes, or anything that reinforces harmful stereotypes and ignorance. I was vocal about it, calling out and questioning why don’t you share these positive images of creative black people or nonblack people of color. I questioned, with little to no answer from my social media peers. Part of me worried that they were afraid to. Reinforcing the idea that anything “Black” needed a connotation or response out of fear. Later only to realize, that the reality was people don’t care about representation until it represents them. I’m a rare bean and think all representation should intersect in some way, so I just share everything. Hoping that at some point people will begin to question why isn’t there more of “this” on my feed or in my circles.
It's just that big platforms, like Facebook, don’t help that mindset flourish. I worry that in a market that caters so heavily to white silence, the tools so easily accessible yet only marketable for white people will continue to limit the content that circulates in the general public. While I slowly fade from facebook as a tool to market my content and grow my brand, I don’t stop seeking others whose work is not heard of. Hitting a share button takes all of five seconds if your wifi is capable it's easy to do. Yet so little people do so, adding to the silencing of creatives of color.