Update: Facebook just threatened to permanently block 60% of you, our readers. Scary stuff!

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Good news! Upon examination (and after 18 hours and dozens of emails) Facebook just admitted they’d flubbed and restored all access for elephant and our admins. (We’re waiting for most of our admins to be granted access once again to their own profiles, pages, friends.) We’re exhausted and just spent a day paying to work on well, nothing productive.

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Losing our access to our Facebook pages? No big deal–just sets me and elephant back three years, block the accounts of 20 volunteer admins who didn’t do anything wrong, result in losing 60% of our readers and revenues, forcing layoffs and probably foreclosure, again–unless I get assurance this won’t happen again (unless we actually violate their guidelines), which we would never want to do, well, Facebook effectively holds the keys to our business and our mission. ~ ed.

Facebook just took down elephant’s Page because we posted this. (Help?)

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 12.17.43 AM Check out the blog in queestion, here. I assume we’ve been warned “your page will go down and stay down forever suckah if you mess up again” because of the image in said blog—which is clearly art, 100-year-old pre-Art Deco for-the-love-of-god art. And art is protected, supposedly, in FB’s posting guidelines.

Oh—and please share this blog and this appeal on Facebook—we can’t.

Help! Anyone know anyone at Facebook? Our Page down bc of poem illustrated by art. If so email me? [email protected] or [email protected]

We can’t access our own profiles or walls. While that may not seem like a big deal to you, Facebook is the basis of 60% of our business, dedicated to sharing the mindful life beyond the choir. Our business is media. And social media is the modern bookstore—ie, where we distribute copies of our online “magazines.”

If you have a good contact at Facebook, please (respectfully) ask them to help me out, on an urgent basis. They can, svp, email us at [email protected].

I’ve reached out to our one contact and though he was kind enough to respond last time

(when we were banned for sharing a feminist article featuring an image of art, not nudity, but re-shares of the article grabbed other, totally inappropriate images from within the blog—that grab, of course, was not under our control, but rather due to Facebook’s own auto-choosing of images)

he didn’t change anything. So though our intention is (of course) never to violate their rules, and lose our page, and hurt our own business and disappear to our readers. We’ve been active, posting every day on FB for years, without problem prior to the above. So I have to ask: since, in this situation, Facebook holds all the cards, including whether they reply and help out at all, or not—is the only way to build new media in this day and age to leave FB and other platforms outside of our own control behind, and focus on newsletters?

We’re an independent company, without Huff Post-ish friends in high places, but we’ve been voted #1 in the US, twice, for #green on twitter, we’ve won many green, wellness and health accolades, and until this hour, we were at 1.6 million readers/month. That will drop quickly if this isn’t rectified to about 900,000 readers/month, putting us back two years of 7 days a week work.

And worst of all, even if and when we get through this, they’ve threatened to take our Page down the next time a random reader decides to flag a issue-based blog they happen to vehemently disagree with. Apparently I’m in the business of building sand castles.

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About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


46 Responses to “Update: Facebook just threatened to permanently block 60% of you, our readers. Scary stuff!”

  1. Donovan says:

    Don't feel bad, Facebook is doing this to everyone. They don't want YOU to make money. They only want Facebook to make money.

    • elephantjournal says:

      I'm happy for them to make money, they provide a useful service. But if they put those who invest views and community into their business in fear of losing our business, well, we can't be in the position of losing our business overnight over an auto-flagged whim. We (all of us on FB for business, non-profits, causes) needs to be able to depend on the community we've invested time and money into building up.

  2. It´s actually because the image, Facebook block everything that containing nudity. It´s not about the content, was the picture. Facebook penalized you or simply block your site for a limited time?

  3. sarah says:

    It's so true- as Donovan said- that Facebook is doing this to everyone! They have been blocking mothers who post photos of them breastfeeding their children, to feminist groups posting about feminism… facebook is unfortunately a great tool for business but it is incredibly misogynistic. I wish that we could all move away from FB to a vehicle of change that is not as problematic.

  4. paul says:

    Does ej buy ads on fb? I don't recall seeing any, and I suspect less problems will be encountered if it did. FB might have attempted a dialogue, even for an image with a woman's nipple, which from what I've read is the #1 way to get yourself booted.

    • elephantjournal says:

      We've bought a few (we're indie, so broke historically) but our budget isn't anywhere near the 25K or whatever it is where we'd get our own rep. That said, it's a valuable service to us and if ads worked I would be happy to spend as much as we could, or pay "rent." ~ Waylon

  5. Ben_Ralston says:

    Yes, and would be good to point out another burning injustice: that ALL admins on the Ele Journal FB page are equally in danger of losing their Facebook pages, even though (for example in my case) I did not post the article in question.
    Utterly. Ridiculous.

  6. amphibi1yogini says:

    This is sad. I needed to get away from Facebook for many months. And I'd come here. They should not do this to independent sites.

  7. Tara Lemieux says:

    You know, the bottom line is that Facebook is a 'free service' and it's *their* free service. They are entitled to make these determinations, unfortunately in a manner that impacts all of us editors.

    • elephantjournal says:

      No, they're not. They are directly closing the door to the fourth estate, which as Jefferson and many others have said is fundamental to a functioning democracy. They have a duty. They are not just a business–they are the way that, say, 50-60% of America gets their news.

  8. Ummm…I'm having trouble seeing the nudity in that Hafiz quote…

  9. shelley says:


    not sure what is true and what is not. however, I find it very disturbing what I see being monitored and removed….

  10. kimberlylowriter says:

    Yeah, it was the nudity. Never mind that it was just a painting. The software just scans in on the pictures. It's automatic when they send that. Sigh!

  11. nikki says:

    Yes, I keep hearing of this happening! Just in the last month I've heard of three other "smaller" FB pages , attached to attached to smaller websites like mine, http://www.glad.is (well, smaller than Elephant journal anyway!) =) …that get taken down. And have had to start new pages, and start re-building their audience from nothing, which sucks.
    It seems like there are groups of people who start posting generic comments like "Hey Glad.is, there's something about this article/post that I don't like" – then they flag you. I haven't been able to figure out why they go after what they do – it is not always nudity – it can simply be something they disagree with, and their group starts flagging you. I guess it's part of our new phenomenon of 'internet bullying' – so easy to do when you can be anonymous! I'm so sorry it happened to you guys.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Scary. The power of flagging to "downvote" and kill anything we don't agree with, if used improperly, will kill dialogue in America.

  12. apedfish says:

    Honestly, I was a little taken aback by the picture when I first saw it. I wouldn't go whining to FB about it or anything so I wasn't really offended per say but I certainly wasn't thinking it was totally appropriate. I didn't even realize it was a painting at first glance.

  13. @DrGraceG says:

    I lost a group on FB in which I wrote articles and helped a lot of people with their sex and relationship issues. I had the group for 2 years and someone added a prude, who reported my group and the next time I tried to access it, it was just gone, without warning, without any notice. I couldn't even save any of my work/articles. They don't care about anyone else, I had people contacting me for weeks, asking where is our group, some people even emailed FB on our behalf standing up for our group saying how much it helped them, but FB would not restore it. I had to start a new group and now it's "secret" and I made it so all new members have to be approved by me. All you can do at this point is start a new page :/ Sorry. That is the truth.

  14. Jennifer White says:

    I'm actually getting more peeved as the day goes by. I cannot believe that FB would try to limit access to a site that brings so much traffic to their own business, and for no reason at all (well, no valid one). The level to which they escalated this all (i.e. to the various administrators) is just outrageous!

    • elephantjournal says:

      I'm mostly depressed, and scared. I just talked to two local yoga teachers who read elephant and their reaction was, "well, just don't about sexuality." Callous, to say the least. We could add to that list: no blogs about anything that might offend a reader, like abortion, or animal rights, or politics.

      That was a hundred-year old art decoish tasteful painting of nudes illustrating a Hafiz poem.

      "Our policy prohibits photos of actual nude people, not paintings or sculptures” ~ Simon Axten, FB spokesperson. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-seed/when-is-a

      As mentioned, our page and admins are blocked, down, threatened with being down forever if happens a third time.

      This is 60% of my business–60% of my traffic comes through FB. I may have to lay off staff, lose my home if a third strike happened. And why would it not happen, if all it takes is a flagged post?

      We put a ton of energy into FB, and build interactive and awesome communities in in. We've been named #1 in green nationally, twice, and are a real biz. I can't imagine Huff Post would get threatened this way.

      If you or anyone reading this have any contacts or pull at FB, we need to know that we're safe and not building our business on shifting sands.

      • Jennifer White says:

        And elephant is not the only business,or news source for that matter, fueled by FB. The hardships that this would bring were known when FB decided to take this extreme action. And for a flagged post? Really?
        Honestly, between this and the entire Prism thing, I feel you on finding this all very depressing and frightening. What are we coming to? Is the reader who flagged this seriously feeling "safer" now? Yikes.

  15. greenbless says:

    Way, take it to the ACLU or escalate another way. Can they censor EJs page since it's a online publication?

  16. @jkdman007 says:

    Why would *anyone* want to be on Facebook anyway?

  17. Kimberly Stover says:

    I don't understand why if someone finds something offensive, they don't just leave the page. No one makes them stay. I can understand if it were their own page. But even then it can usually just be removed and done with. But for real, leave other peoples pages alone and find another page you find more appropriate to your tastes. By the way, I didn't realize you had a FB page. I subscribe to you by email. If you get back on FB, you may consider having your followers subscribe also.

  18. Georgie says:

    They allow soft porn but not art. Don't be fearful Elephant! Keep doing your thing:)

  19. Electra says:

    I'm a huge fan of your publication. The article in question was an exception piece.
    When exactly did the people at FB become art critics? It's a painting rendered in a cubist style popularized by Picasso, Cezzane and Braque. The artistic style of the 1920's!!! Wow we have not come such a long way I suppose in the realm of censorship!

  20. missbernklau says:

    What’s fucked about the policy is that plenty of “rape joke” memes (which Facebook claim didn’t initially cause any alarm for the Facebook police, for lack of a better word…but supposedly now they are doing something about it) are shared on Facebook daily ad nauseum, but an article featuring a nude painting is NOT OKAY! FACEBOOK SMASH! But I think they are too lazy to really comb through everything, so basically any female nudity displayed in a non sexual way is not okay and they flag immediately…but tittiy flashes posted by said titty flasher at Spring Break in Cabo, are fine…but not photos of a mother breastfeeding her child, that’s “offensive”. Myspace took down a PENCIL SKETCH of a nude I did in college…so the repressed mysoginist prude torch has been passed on to Facebook. Hopefully ej can get in contact and talk some sense into the lazies at Facebook. Surprising that they just take away access without warning…unless someone is displaying pictures of snuff or child porn or something, there’s no reason not to give the person a chance to remove the post before locking them out/shutting them down…jeez.

  21. JCD says:

    Do you have a G+ profile or page or community?
    I'd much rather use G+ than fb

  22. Create a new facebook alongside what you're doing now. Somebody will sooner or later, make it green and enlightened. facebook's reached a consolidation point alongside the Universal Life Cycle, it's trying to get bigger and fatter to make money, but the reality is that nothing is immutable. You talk about the intransient nature of the world but don';t recognise it when it's staring you in the face :)) Time to evolve and look at this as a blessing. lessons are repeated until they're learnt:)

  23. Mike Kirby says:

    With all due respect, you do have control over which images Facebook picks when a page is shared. Have your web developer google "facebook og: meta tags". You can specif which image you want used as the thumbnail.

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