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May 10, 2021

Facebook Oversight Board’s Oversights

Barring Trump should be just the beginning

By Ed Goldman

Forgive me, Facebook, for I have sinned. Ever since learning that you actually have an oversight board—composed of “academics, activists and political leaders,” according to the Wall Street Journal—I’ve shamelessly begged its members to invite me to join.

Yes, I’ve Friended them.

Edgy Cartoon

UnFriend In Need Is UnFriend Indeed

We probably wouldn’t even know this board existed had it not been for the simultaneous existence of Donald Trump, the noted bankruptcy advocate, deposed President and leading contender to play the new Marvel super-villain, Anti-Christ-Man. Trump has announced that if he gets the part—also under consideration are Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Q-Anon—he’ll do his own stunts, which consist mainly of climbing in and out of a chair and tumbling on ramps. 

As you know, tumbling on ramps seems to be a mandatory activity for presidents: Gerald Ford did it years ago and Joe Biden followed suit a few weeks ago. Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter would have, too, but they clearly considered themselves above ramps. Have I now successfully offended both major political parties? I like to set goals.

Anyway, if I were invited to serve on what I believe is called the Facebook Oversight Group (F.O.G.)—though its name may also be the Facebook Investigative Board (F.I.B.)—here are the dreams I’d like to turn into reality:

  1. STRICTLY ENFORCE WHINING LIMITS. These would include posts by an artist whose landlord is evicting him because the landlord found a buyer for the home (“Oh, the inhumanity!”).
  1. A BAN ON REDUNDANT SELF-CONGRATULATIONS: “I’m so honored to have been named The Most Humble Nonprofit Manager in the Country for 2021, and will now be able to use this trophy, and my last year’s win as The Most Modest Person in the Tri-City Area, as bookends on the shelves in my den. Next year I vow to begin buying books to fill those shelves.”
  2. EASING OFF OF EXCESSIVE SENTIMENTALITY: “Thanks soooo much to the 17 FB Friends who somehow found out my birthday was yesterday! How’d you do it? Who told you?! You scamps! I love you all and always will and would take you all to lunch if only I could, but of course, I can’t, there being so many of you.”
  3. BAN POSTS DESIGNED TO MAKE EVERYONE EXCEPT THE PERSON WHO DID THE POST DO ALL THE WORK. Like: “Tell me everyone you’ve ever known whose surname or given name contains the letter ‘e.’”
  4. RATCHET DOWN THE VIDEOS of newborn kittens befriending water buffalos, homely babies being designated “the most adorable infant ever, even if I’m his grandma” (one solution may be to add a disclaimer: “And only because you‘re his grandma”). Now, I do enjoy animal-rescue videos—but not when I realize they’re follow-ups to ones of newborn kittens befriending water buffalos.
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  1. DISCOURAGE AMATEUR MUSIC “SAMPLING” (“PLAGIARISM”). Sticking a few bars of Beethoven’s “Eroica” in the background of your skateboarding video really won’t make people think you’re one of our more sensitive slackers. Likewise, having a hip-hop song accompany footage of your Bar Mitzvah won’t give you street cred. (Nor will using the expression “street cred,” which was probably out of date three minutes after it was created.)
  2. STOP RUNNING PATHETIC PHOTOS OF MANGLED DOGS OR ANCIENT WINOS WITH THE CAPTION, “I’ll BET YOU WON’T EVEN SHARE THIS.” You’ll win that bet every time, pal—but I’ll still never ask you to join me for a three-day weekend in Reno. You might want to bring along the mangled dog and ancient wino.
  3. YOU WILL NEVER BE ALLOWED TO POST AN ASININE BROMIDE LIKE “PEOPLE SHOULD BE KINDER” AND DEMAND, “CAN I GET AN “AMEN?” Demand all you like, Soupy. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for a COMMENT.
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  1. CANCEL ALL PHENOENALLY BORING POSTS. You know the ones I mean:

– “Woke up today. Had coffee. May have lunch later, but only time will tell.”

– “Just heard that Paul McCartney can’t read music. Wow.”

– “Lunch didn’t work out as hoped for.  Well, dinner’s in a few hours.”

– “Got vaxxed today. Felt a little ill later but think it may be attributable to the bottle of Costco Chablis I drank to celebrate. Anyone else had this reaction?”

  1. STOP PRETENDING FREE SPEECH IS THE SAME AS ENCOURAGING THE OVERTHROW OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT. But remember, if you’re in the middle of a fire, it’s okay to yell, “Theatre!”

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).