Facebook Blunders into Comics Censorship (Updated! Restored!)

Update:

After more than 48 hours, it appears that Facebook quietly restored the Bounding into Comics Facebook page as of 10:30pm Wednesday night.

 

Original story:

On Monday morning, May 6, Facebook first issued a series of quick warnings and then deleted the Facebook page of the geek news site Bounding into Comics, which had over 250,000 followers. John Trent, the website’s founder, initially thought it was some sort of technical error. But after spending a day trying to get a straight answer out of the social media giant, he changed his tune and charged censorship.

When we spoke via DMs about the whole ordeal of being deplatformed, over lunchtime Wednesday, he still had not received an answer. Trent insists that Bounding into Comics has done nothing wrong, that Facebook has Orwellian customer service, and this and other deplatformings will cost Facebook in terms of both customers and reputation.

Jeremy Lott: Let’s start with a basic question: What is Bounding into Comics?

John Trent: Bounding Into Comics is an entertainment website with a focus on comics, movies, and TV with a dash of celebrity news mixed in. We are branching out into video games and anime. Of course we also cover censorship as well.

Jeremy: Facebook just took down your page to promote Bounding into Comics, with over 250,000 followers. What happened?

John: It’s unclear what exactly happened. I posted our article with the newly released Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer to the page and about 30 minutes later, I was logged out of my personal account. When I logged back in I received a set of alerts stating I had violated Facebook’s policies. Facebook did not provide any specific examples and they have not responded to any of our inquiries through multiple channels. I was not the only one to receive these alerts. Our other page managers also received the alerts. It was specifically targeted at the page, not the individual accounts that manage it.

Jeremy: How would this violate Facebook’s policies?

John: I honestly don’t know. We have posted trailers in this fashion in the past and have had no issue. We have a license for the trailers and upload them to our YouTube channel. We then incorporate the YouTube video into our article and post the article to Facebook.

Jeremy: Just trying to wrap my head around this still: These are licensed videos, meaning you pay for their use, correct?

John: We have a license through a third party that acts as a go-between for movie studios and press to distribute them. Our license is through EPK.TV.

Jeremy: Do you think the move by Facebook was a reaction to a complaint or an algorithm snafu?

John: I’m purely speculating because Facebook has not responded to us, but it seems too much of a coincidence that Facebook would roll out these big bans just days before. I think we were more than likely targeted because of the nature of our content.

Jeremy: What bans were rolled out?

John: At the beginning of this month they banned Laura Loomer, Paul Joseph Watson, Louis Farrakhan, Milo Yiannapoulos, Paul Nehlen, and Alex Jones.

Jeremy: How frustrating is it not knowing definitively if you were intentionally censored or if this was just some giant oopsie?

John: It’s incredibly frustrating. Even more frustrating is the horrible customer service from Facebook. They won’t even respond to our inquiries!

Jeremy: How much does losing the page affect your reach and your bottom line?

John: Facebook is the #3 visited site on the planet. However, their platform has made a number of changes since the 2016 election cycle. Those changes affected quite a bit of how pages reach their audience. Fortunately, we’ve been acutely aware of Facebook’s changes and have made moves to diversify how people can find our content. We are not solely reliant on Facebook and have built a solid readership and fanbase that visits our site every day.

The changes we made have ensured that Facebook shutting our page down is not crippling. It’s definitely a blow, but it’s not as bad as it could have been if we had not already been focusing on other ways to reach new readers.

Jeremy: Do you think your apparent ban from Facebook will move many of those fans to competing platforms?

John: It already has. A number of our fans have already followed us over to Gab and MeWe. We have some of the best readers and truly appreciate their support. We wouldn’t be able to do what we are doing without them!

Jeremy: Let’s talk about your content. Those figures that got banned were controversial political figures. How in the world did a site about comic books and all things geek get caught in that net?

John: That’s just my speculation given the timing of the bannings and the complete deletion of our page without any kind of warning. If my speculation is correct, it’s more than likely the fact that we covered the bannings and take a very critical editorial stance on how social media companies are censoring individuals and entire websites.

We also aren’t afraid to provide a unique editorial view on entertainment and pop culture. We don’t shy away from covering celebrity opinions whether it’s how Charlize Theron is raising her children to Patton Oswalt’s numerous comments about the President.

We are also highly critical of the current state of many of the more popular franchises that dominate the entertainment industry such as Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Marvel Comics, DC Comics etc…

Jeremy: If Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg reads this, is there anything that you’d like to tell him?

John: That’s something I haven’t thought about. I would probably ask him if he believes censoring the people that use his platform will result in long-term success for Facebook. And then I would probably follow that up with asking him what he thinks success means.

Jeremy: What does success mean for Bounding into Comics?

John: It means a number of different things. Ultimately, we want to turn a profit. But we also want to keep expanding and growing into other streams. I mentioned branching out into more video games and anime. And hopefully we will be able to really dive into creating and expanding our content to video. Success also means being honest with ourselves and maintaining our integrity and respect for our fans and readers.

We also want to be the premiere source for entertainment news. We are still young and have a ways to go, but we are making large strides despite Facebook’s recent deletion of our page.

Jeremy: Last question: What is your favorite comic book of all time? Of all time!

John: Single issue or collected story?

Jeremy: Your call.

John: That is a tough question. It’s probably one of those things that fluctuates. I really enjoy a lot of Rick Remender’s recent Image Comics works like Seven to Eternity, Tokyo Ghost, and Low. One of my favorites is Jeff Lemire’s The Valiant and his Bloodshot Reborn run right after.

However, if I really had to pick what my favorite comic story is it would be Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt’s Sixth Gun, with a close second being C.O.W.L. by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis.

Jeremy Lott

Jeremy Lott

Jeremy Lott is author of Movie Men, currently crowdfunding on Indiegogo.