Betrayed by Facebook Algorithms

My battle with Facebook’s awful algorithms and how they can do better

Joe DeRouen
3 min readJan 19, 2022


Facebook algorithms often get it wrong (image from AdobeStock)

On December 20, 2021, I received a notification from Facebook that I had “violated their community standards.” This had happened to me a few times before, but I always appealed and always got the “We reviewed one of the posts that led to this restriction again, and it did follow our Community Standards” message and had whatever restrictions they’d placed upon me removed.

But not this time.

I’d responded to a friend who’d complained that Elon Musk was Time’s Person of the Year for 2021. My response, verbatim, was “Adolf Hitler was once Time’s man of the year.” This was meant to indicate that Time doesn’t always chose someone who’s a good person, but rather someone who made a huge impact on the world, as Hitler unfortunately did in 1938. Make no mistake about it: Hitler was an awful, terrible human being, who committed horrific atrocities. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that Time chose him as their Man of the Year in 1938.

I stated an historical fact, but Facebook classified it as “hate speech.” I appealed, and was told once again, “Your comment didn’t follow our Community Standards.”

Oh no, I stated an historical fact!

My punishment? I was unable to advertise or go live for 30 days. I almost never go live, but I do pay to advertise my novels on Facebook from time to time, so this annoyed me.

But I still had one more shot! I could appeal to the Facebook Oversight Board, a group that isn’t part of Facebook but that independently reviews cases. They choose very few cases to review, the notification stated, but I was somehow sure they’d review mine. After all, I’d done nothing wrong.

My last hope, squashed

Nope. A few days later, I was notified that they chose not to review my case. There were no further avenues of appeal. Without recourse, I would have to take my punishment, wait it out, and be very careful of anything and…



Joe DeRouen

Joe is a freelance writer and novelist.