June 13, 2021
My name is Andrew Hestelow. I manage four pages on Facebook. My personal page:
A page for the business Tokai Australia:
A page for 1st Wahroonga Scouts, where I’ve been a Leader for 21 years:
And a page for our primary business, Downrigger Shop Fishing Tackle:
The Downrigger Shop page is verified by Facebook as a business:
And my identity has been confirmed by Facebook:
The Downrigger Shop Facebook page is nearly ten years old:
It holds over fourteen thousand images uploaded over that period:
The page also hosts an estimated 4000 uploaded videos (1560 uploads in the last 3 years);
Downrigger Shop Facebook page has over 20,000 followers:
Reached over 830,000 people, last month:
The page is used for paid advertising, meaning we are a Facebook customer:
Two weeks ago, without notice, Facebook cut my access to:
The Tokai page;
The Wahroonga Scouts page;
The Downrigger Shop page.
Their reason? ‘Repeatedly going against our Community Standards.’
Here’s the message they posted on our Cub Scouts page:
But Facebook’s artificial intelligence programs, and their algorithms, make assessment mistakes. Big ones, and that’s what’s happened to us. They’ve got it wrong. Here’s proof. Facebook identified a girl, holding a fish she caught, as ‘going against our rules on animals’:
Facebook identified an advertisement for a rod and reel as ‘selling weapons’:
Facebook removed an image of medicine packaging, saying it ‘doesn’t follow their Community Standards’:
Facebook identified an advertisement for knife jigs (a common fishing lure), as an advertisement for knives:
Facebook identified a picture of flathead fillets displayed in a seafood shop as ‘nudity’:
Facebook identified a video compilation of boating accidents as ‘celebrating violence’, and removed the video - which was actually a timely reminder to be careful, directed at the thousands of boat owners on our fishing tackle page:
Facebook, just last month, identified an obviously staged skit - which I captioned as ‘Friday Funnies’ – as ‘containing false information.’ Which was never in doubt. That’s why it was called Friday Funnies. Apparently the ‘false information’ was picked up by their ‘fact checkers.’ A pity there’s no fact checkers involved in checking their own misidentification of 'nudity', 'weapons', 'knives' etc.
It appears the trigger for blocking our accounts was a video I posted on 20th May, labelled Friday Funnies. That video was never posted to the Scouts page, or to the Tokai page. But Facebook banned me from operating those pages too. The video was only posted to my personal page, and the Downrigger Shop page. On the personal page, Facebook added an ‘ownership link’:
On the Downrigger Shop page, they removed the video. Then, they shut down all three pages:
There is no appeal process. Facebook call it a temporary ban - but with nearly three weeks having passed, still won’t lift the ban. I can’t post updates for our Cub Scout parents. And our fishing tackle page is dying fast, threatening our future. Downrigger Shop is a small family business, run from home:
Visitor numbers – essential for our sales - are in free fall since mid May:
Our business is failing, due to Facebook's mistakes:
But it's not just about us. Facebook are punishing:
The twenty thousand followers on our fishing tackle page;
The parents on our Cub Scout page;
The clients on our Tokai page.
Note that the Tokai and Scout pages never received a complaint?
But they shut them down anyway.
To quickly rehash:
We are customers of Facebook
They supply advertising to us
One of our pages holds 18000 images and videos
Facebook has found fault with 8 – that they have notified me about
8 complaints out of 18000 images is 0.0004%, or one in 2250 images
Out of those 8 complaints, at least 4 are incorrect – fish fillets branded as nudity, etc
Their mistakes are destroying our business
and we have no opportunity for redress
We turn to NCAT for the impartiality and integrity we can't get from Facebook.
I ask that the Tribunal order Facebook to reinstate the three pages they have ‘temporarily’ blocked - and compensate us for our loss of trade. Thank you,