Social Media Guidelines Used to Silence People of Color

EDITED: I’ve learned from others on FB that the number of posts being removed from Layla’s page is up to 8 on FB including her Guideline of Engagement for her page.  She is being targeted. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Yesterday I wrote, “I hear you. I am sorry. We’ll do better” as a response to what I was seeing on the Facebook page of a woman of color I follow. We did not do better and as a result, she has been banned from FB for 24 hrs.  I’m going to tell you the story, including a couple of screen shots from her page (with her permission). But, first, let me say very clearly that this is NOT an isolated incident.  I’ve read about this happening to other people of color. But, this is the first time I was connected with the effected person on a level that let me see the story unfold.

This is a story of racism.  Of equating “words of anger at oppressors” with hateful words from bigots and terrorists. This is about silencing POC and “keeping them in their place.” It is about telling POC that pointing out oppression in any voice that is not kind and respectful is hateful and worthy of censure. This is tone policing. This is racism in action by social media outlets many of us use everyday.  And we cannot allow it to continue.

Before we begin the story I want to say that you might find yourself uncomfortable with her words. If that happens, take a deep breath.  Feel the discomfort in your body and take a moment to ask yourself why you feel that way.  Decide if you care enough about ending racism to keep reading even though you are uncomfortable.  If you do, take another deep breath and continue. Do this as many times as you need to to get through the story.  Because this is important.  This is part of our work.

Now let the story begin.

It began with a mother of color sharing a story of how racism had touched her 8-old-daughter and how angry she was that its tentacles had reached her child in what should have been a moment of absolute delight. The story was shared on Instagram and Facebook.

I had things to do and the energy to do them.  So, I was away from FB for 7 hours. When I came back I saw that far too many white women on both sites were telling her that she was overreacting; that she should use it for a teaching moment; that it really wasn’t that big a deal; and some, even calling HER a racist. There were also the “good white women” who took the moment to share what they were doing to raise conscious kids.  If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll see why these are the wrong thing to do because they are hurtful.

As she responded to these women, she called them out on their re-centering of themselves and their white fragility.  She reminded them that they were in her space.  A space where racist nonsense is not tolerated and that they were welcome to leave.  Those that came back with more crap [my description] were asked by her to leave.  Many didn’t.  And in frustration and anger, she posted about how the day had exhausted her; bout how she needed to take a break from “white women” nonsense.

Later in the day posts were removed by both Facebook and Instagram for violating Community Guideline. I do not know what was involved on Instagram because I rarely use that.  But on Facebook, the Community Guideline they are claiming she violated was that she “attacked people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender or disability.”  I’m sharing screen shots (with her permission) of two posts that were in violation on FB.  I’m guessing the violation came from the phrase “white woman” and “white women” both here and in other posts that were removed. These are also what contributed to her being banned from Facebook for 24 hours.


Note that this one is a quote from a book (The Becky Code by Catrice M. Jackson)


If these posts are in violation of the Guidelines, then NO person of color will ever be allowed to call out oppression.  Because White People are the ones doing the oppressing and they are they one’s who need to change their behavior. If POC cannot call them out as “white” in order to hold them accountable, then what are they supposed to do?

Maybe if they do it in a “nicer way” it won’t be considered an attack.  Maybe.  But that is called tone policing and it is racism.  Saying POC have to talk to white people in a way that doesn’t make them feel bad about themselves is a form of telling them to know their place.  Our history is full of stories of POC lynched because they didn’t use the right tone; didn’t stay in their place. We don’t need that in our social media.

If you care about racism, if you want to be a part of the solution, you need to care about this and you need to let your social media platforms know this is WRONG.

Freedom for all requires becoming comfortable with discomfort.  Freedom for all meand having the discression to recognize real hate speech and a call to accountability. Freedom for all requires speaking up.



One thought on “Social Media Guidelines Used to Silence People of Color

  1. From Layla Saad’s instagram. She gave permission for this to be shared.

    In the last 24hrs I have had a total of 10 social media posts removed (2 on IG, 8 on FB). I have been temporarily blocked from posting on FB.

    I have received numerous abusive private messages on fb messenger – and when I reported them I was told there was no violation.

    My most recent post to be removed from FB is one in which I share my Personal Guidelines Of Engagement for people following me. Because apparently now it’s also a violation for black women to have boundaries that keep them safe from racist micro and macro aggressions.

    I have had to change my IG profile to private. And I’ve had to go back through all my old fb posts and switch the privacy settings from ‘public’ to ‘friends only’ because someone(s) is targeting me by systematically reporting my posts one by one.

    I am being silenced. I am being put in my place. I am being taught a lesson about how I’m supposed to behave as a woman of colour.

    For people asking ‘what can we do?’, please SHARE what is happening with your communities. Post about it and get the word out. This isn’t just me. This happens to women of colour who speak on social justice issues ALL THE TIME. It needs to stop.


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