Phone the neighbors, wake the kids, it's time for another Facebook Rant! Actually, this time it is more of a screed about Facebook users, and the larger issue of the increase in hate, anger, and general incivility over the past four or five years.

I've always said, if you have nothing nice to say, say it on social media - and events of the past week have proven that to be true once again.

You see, back in July, I was having trouble with the services that hosted my blog. I wrote about my decision to go ahead and host my own server so that I could take care of any problems that arise myself, without having to go through so many layers of support. I made a couple of progress posts on August the third and on the sixth, and finally was ready on August 16th to announce the new self-hosted website and blog were up and running.

One of the problems that caused me to leave the hosting service world was failure of the email service to announce new posts to subscribers. On this first post under the new system, I was pleased to see that everything worked just fine. Notices went out on schedule, with no bounce-backs.

"Gee," I thought naively, "maybe I should boost that post on Facebook to try and get a few more readers."

Let me explain the "boost" part. I've had a "business" page on Facebook for lo these six years, at . I started it in part to separate what was becoming my professional writing gig from my personal page, but also because with this type of page Facebook allows you to "Boost" or promote some of your posts. In short, I could create a post, link it to a blog article or a new publication for sale, choose a target audience, choose the amount I wanted to spend, and send it off for the Facebook Algorithms (may their names be praised) to distribute.

So for six years, I have been boosting various posts with equally varying affects. I've slowly increased blog readership, advertised books, listed real estate we had for sale, and so on.

Over that time, I would get the odd rude comment once in a while that I would have to hide or delete, but rarely any profanity. It was usually something succinct like "Your stupid" (to which I was always tempted to reply simply "you're").

More common was someone trying to hijack my paid-for post with comments like "My book is better, you should contact me at", or even quotes from Bible verses.

So it was a shock to me to see the comments that came in from last week's boosted post. I actually went back and re-read it to see what might have provoked such anger. Had I made some political statement? Offended some religious group?

Not at all. It was only eight sentences, for goodness sakes! Just an announcement that my new server was up, a list of my new domains, and a brief description of what you would find there.

Yet one of the very first comments was "Bugger off" (at least I have an audience in the UK), followed by "No one cares", and the even more direct, "Eat sh*t" (asterisk my own). Just in case his opinion was not clear, that last aspiring poet felt further inclined to add two additional comments over the next few hours (again, asterisks are my own): "F*ck off", and "F*ck you and these bullsh*t ads".

My response to profanity is always to delete the comment and ban the user, which I did. The next day however, I had someone who felt moved to lecture me about legalities of the whole situation:

"My newsfeed is for friends, family & pages I LIKE/follow. It's not a platform for your company to advertise on.

You have totally failed to get my patronage today & in the future, post your advertising on Facebook Marketplace,as you should be doing.

As per Facebook: "spam involves contacting people with unwanted content... This includes sending bulk messages...".

I didn't solicit your ad and this meets FBs own definition of spam. Contact them, read your Terms of Service and if you contracted out some tech firm to set this up, fire them.

Spam is unethical, the people who distribute it are unethical, the people who try to justify it by saying "I paid them for it"

You are now reported as SPAM."

Two hours later, before I had even read this legal brief (one of those middle-of-the-night commenters), he felt compelled to follow up with, "You weren't invited to my page. Your presence here is an invasion of privacy!!!!"

I believe that in logical debating circles, the use of four exclamation marks is worth bonus points.

My new Facebooks pen pals.

As Samuel L. Jackson famously said in Pulp Fiction, "Well allow me to retort!"

First of all, "it is not a platform for your company to advertise on!"

Wrong. If he had done as he advised me to do and read the Terms and Conditions of Facebook, the very second paragraph states:

"We don’t charge you to use Facebook or the other products and services covered by these Terms. Instead, businesses and organizations pay us to show you ads for their products and services. By using our Products, you agree that we can show you ads that we think will be relevant to you and your interests. We use your personal data to help determine which ads to show you."

In other words, Facebook is exactly a platform for advertising. Let's face it, any time you get something for free, it is because you are the product. Also, the "people who distribute it"  was Facebook itself, so I'm not sure who he thinks I should be firing.

Of course, as for his last complaint that I'm somehow invading his privacy, all I can say is LOL!!!! (note the four exclamation points).  If your concern is your privacywhy the heck are you on Facebook in the first place? It is hard to imagine a less private place on the Internet.

Another attorney wannabe also went with the privacy plea, stating "I do not care about this SPONSORED AD, is not relevant to me. I will now hide it, along with any future ads from the poster. It is just pure SPAM not wanted on my timeline/newsfeed!" Clearly not as well-versed in law as the other gentleman, as he used only one exclamation mark.

The big irony that gives me a chuckle is that by making comments on the post, they are actually making it more likely that they will see more like it in the future. Not to mention, their family and friends they are so private about may see the posts as well, along with their profane comments - if I hadn't done the public a service and banned them, of course.

What I don't understand is the sudden surge of anger and hate over an innocuous post. There was nothing being sold, and they were under no compulsion to click on the link at all. In the past, I would get less than 5% negative or inappropriate remarks. On this completely non-political, non-controversial post it was the opposite - more than 95% of the comments were nasty, rude, profane, and/or completely unnecessary.

What is it that is driving people to take the time to spew vitriol when all the have to do is ignore it and keep scrolling? Remember, some of these people sent more than one comment. I have ads in my own Facebook newsfeed all the time - you literally can't be on Facebook and not get ads - but I don't take time out of my day to shout profanities at KitchenAid, AmericanExpress or Viking Cruise Line.

Although, and this is the scary part and the reason for this post, when I took a look at comments on some of those ads, I saw the same kind of profane nonsense!  One comment connected American Express to Critical Race Theory.

Part of it has to be the increasingly divided political tribes over the past five years. It also doesn't help that media groups have sprung up that are happy to promote rumor, innuendo, and even blatant lies as though they were facts. Of course, a lot of misinformation comes from social media as well.

Then too, dealing with the pandemic for almost two years now, people feel locked in. Their lives have been disrupted and the future is uncertain. This also is exascerbated by politicizing a public health issue. We've already seen people throwing fits in public places, ripping masks off of other people, even shootings and stabbings over wearing a piece of paper over your face to go into WalMart.

With all this pent up rage, what can you do? If you yell at the boss, you get fired. Harangue the wife, and no more sexy-time. It's not even socially acceptable to spank the kids anymore, so what can you do?

Well, why not lose your sh*t totally over an ad on Facebook? You can rant at someone from the safety of your own electronic device, and feel powerful for a few seconds.

I think that fear of the loss of power is central to a lot that is going on these days. With conflicting information being blasted at us from every direction, travel and work schedules in chaos, and no end in sight, people are beginning to feel more and more powerless.

That may be why people who have rejected a tested and demonstrably effective vaccine instead choose to take horse de-wormer. Hey, it may be stupid, it may be dangerous, but it was MY choice! I had the power! I'm no sheep! Although to be fair, I did just read the same medication is used for sheep with worms, but I digress.

I have no immediate answer. I wish I could come up with something that would convince people to chill a little bit, just step back and breathe for a minute, and look at what you have instead of what you want.

So I'll just bugger off.

Before I go however, we're all about learning on this site, right? So let's take a look at what you CAN do about the ads on your Facebook feed. Let's light a candle of knowledge against the darkness of profane rants in the comment section.


Changing Your Ad Settings

On your Profile page, click the little down arrow in the upper right and select Settings and Privacy from the menu.

Then Choose Settings, and select Ads from these options:

You will see a page like this. To start with, we can look at you advertisers.

As you can see, although there is not a "curse them out" setting, you can choose to hide your most recent advertisers. We recently bought a KitchenAid product, so I could opt out of those ads. You can hit "See More", and do this as much as you like. You will even get options like "Hide All Ads from this Advertiser"

Next, on the left hand side click on Ad Topics.

You go down the list of topics and choose to See Fewer of many types of ads. For example, we no longer have any pets, so I could click to see fewer Pet related ads. 

Now getting to the nub of things, select Ad Settings  on the left.

This is the one that should be of the most interests to my new Facebook admirers. Here they can instruct Facebook not to use any data from their posts, activity on the web, profile information, or other categories. Problem solved, right?

Wrong. Choose one, and get this reminder:

Get it, my oh-so eloquent fans? You will continue to get the same number of ads and "privacy invasions" no matter what you do. They will just be more random, and less relevant to you. More opportunities to swear in more colorful ways or demonstrate your complete lack of understanding about what Facebook is there for, I guess. 

Of course, instead of all the steps outlined above you could just do one very easy thing:


This is truly a matter of if you ignore it, it will go away. The almighty Facebook Algorithms (may their names be praised) will decide you are not interested and move on.

But hey, in this topsy-turvy world, maybe now it is perfectly okay to shoot the message instead of the messenger.