Facebook slander – being slandered in a private facebook group

The last few days have been interesting.

I was made aware of a thread on a Facebook group where people, some I’ve never even heard of, took it upon themselves to “Facebook slander” me. This was a small group of contributors to a larger main group, which currently has over 54,000 members.

Sorry, but I’m not about to let that one go.

Facebook slander – being slandered in a private facebook group

It was a Friday lunchtime, I was walking around Liverpool City Centre looking for a small gift I could surprise Evelyn with when I got home (bribery, basically). My phone buzzed and I got a message from a friend:

“Did you tweet about that shampoo advert that had the model with a hijab on it?”

Oh god. I did. And people had jumped on it to show the most nauseating display of virtue signalling you can imagine. Essentially, I think it’s a daft idea to have a shampoo advert showing someone with their hair covered. I likened it to a car advert showing a locked garage, or a teeth-whitening advert showing a person with a closed mouth. My reaction would have been the same if it was a bike helmet being worn instead of a hijab. It’s my opinion on a daft ad, nothing more, nothing less.

The question

My friend sent me a screenshot from within the facebook group. It was a woman in there asking if she was being irrational by wanting to write a blog post about my shampoo-ad tweet (yes, by the way). She stressed that I’d irritated her with my breastfeeding post – this was a mammoth c.3000 word post, but it was this one line that had irritated the woman:

“If your child starts bringing their friends home for dinner, it’s probably time to stop breastfeeding”

Now, I stand by this. But this woman was breastfeeding her 7-year old son at the time (her choice, regardless of what you and I think), so this line irked her. I’ve always respected this woman, she does a lot to raise mental health awareness, I didn’t realise we had an issue.

Her questions in the group invited comments, some from people I’d never heard of before. As flattering luck would have it, they’d heard of me, but I’m not sure they’re going to want me to sign their anger-management manuals any time soon.

The tweets

Perhaps my next actions were impulsive, but I took the screenshots and I tweeted two of these people individually to ask what their issue was. People don’t like that. People hyperventilate if you do that. The intrinsic nastiness of some people does battle with their sense of blog-preservation and they’re not sure whether to double down or backpedal the shit out of there.

I tweeted these people to ask what their issue was. People hate this. Their intrinsic nastiness does battle with their sense of blog-preservation, they're unsure whether to double down or backpedal the shit out of there Click To Tweet

Oh the betrayal!

The group was up in arms. The founder was disgusted that they couldn’t bad-mouth someone in safety. How dare someone let me know they were talking about me in such a bad way! My friend got kicked out the group and has received abuse in private messages since. A warm and motherly post was made from the founder. She was appalled that such disloyalty had been demonstrated here, on this group of all places. They pride themselves on being non-judgmental and supportive after all. How dare this person place her loyalty with me rather than them?

One comment made me laugh out loud:

“OMG who would take a screenshot from a private group conversation?? That’s horrendous”

That’s right – someone was disgusted that they were unable to slander someone without worrying about them finding out. Another user claimed she was “so done with humans”. I’m sorry for her.

The founder vowed to deal with the “Twitter storm” which, let’s be honest, was a mere drizzle with a total of 2 tweets.

It continues…

The phrase “courts controversy” has been used so many times in this whole thing about me.

Listen, I voice my opinions. I always will. If someone disagrees then usually they tell me and we debate it, I learn a lot through this and I’m willing to be persuaded. I’m not in it for the “clicks and traffic” – they don’t translate to anything tangible for me. Aside from the odd review, I don’t earn anything from this. A fact I exploit to, you know, be myself.

“Misogynist” is another word that’s thrown around too. I’d love to know what this is based on. Most of my friends online are female, the vast majority in fact.

I’ve recently raised £100 towards an electric wheelchair for a mum-to-be on Twitter, and then matched that with £100 of my own money. That’s an expensive mask to don for a misogynist, don’t you think?

I've recently raised £100 towards an electric wheelchair for a mum-to-be on Twitter, and then matched that with £100 of my own money. That's an expensive mask to don for a misogynist, don't you think? Click To Tweet

What if it wasn’t about me?

What if these comments were made about someone who would take it to heart? What if someone suffered from anxiety or depression and they saw they were being slated in a private Facebook group? What if someone had been bullied relentlessly for a good portion of their life? Imagine them seeing it happen again online by a bunch of people they never knew existed, in a group that prides itself on support.

It’s sad when the only reason for people doing it is the lack of ability to understand what the person writes. I get it, though – it’s easier just to run with the idea that the person is clearly “a prick” rather than make your own mind up.

Welcome to blogging Facebook groups, people. Supportive, safe places.

I can still see, by the way

Funnily enough, since my friend has been kicked out of the group I’ve had more people send me screenshots, and other messages asking if I knew about it. I’d read enough when I saw the founder of the group implying I was gaining sexual gratification from the abuse they were handing out. Nice parenting group you have there…

I’ve made it clear I’m not really interested in any more screenshots or copy/paste jobs, so consider your stabilisers back on and your hands held once again. Think about this for a second, though. Why would such a despicable person have so many friends willing to tell me what you’re saying?

I reached out to the founder of the group, asking to discuss this like adults. She ignored my messages. I’m wondering what all c.54,000 members in the main group would think of online bullying.

Am I writing this to “court controversy”? No. I’m writing this because this shit needs to be called out.

23 thoughts on “Facebook slander – being slandered in a private facebook group

  1. Perhaps my next actions were impulsive, but I took the screenshots and I tweeted two of these people individually to ask what their issue was. People don’t like that. People hyperventilate if you do that. The intrinsic nastiness of some people does battle with their sense of blog-preservation and they’re not sure whether to double down or backpedal the shit out of there.

    LOLLED. I actually LOLLED.

  2. You are so right to do this! To be fair, if I was the one being targeted here, I would take it to heart and worry about it for days on end and it wasn’t until you highlighted that not everyone is thick skinned that I really started getting annoyed at the whole thing. Please note, it had already made me angry that you were being singled out and bullied on this group but you’ve handled it so well and there will be others that this form of bullying happens to and they won’t cope so well with it.

    Keep doing what you’re doing (not that you would have changed, anyway) you’re so much fun!

  3. It just pisses me off! It just shows that this world of blogging is full of back stabbing bitches who will do anything to stay in their little bubble and moan about other people.. it’s not on and it’s not right! And if you dare call them out you are called a bully

    Don’t ever let them even be a thought, liars will be called out, it’s only a matter of time. People in the end get sick of drama and gossip

  4. Oh matey. What have I said about echo chambers? FB is a place where those with oversized egos are stroked by other people with over sized egos who are all vying for the same fleeting pseudo social media fame. In those little ( or granted large in this case although most prob exist on the periphery) groups someone wants to be top dog. What they say becomes unquestionable law IF you want to stand a chance of being number two top dog in a tiny corner of a fragment of the Internet. Thus if one person takes ( sigh) offence at a Twitter storm ( lmao) of some passing transient comment then all those wanna-be big time group admin peeps get ego stroking.
    It descends into utter nasty school yard drivel within seconds. It would appear that a certain type of person is unable to control their finger unlike their mouth should they be face-to-face with their target. There are groups which exist where people can slag each other off or as I once found out, can be discussed ( lol) at length without the person in question even knowing- until , of course, you get a screen shot! Man how those can put a downer on an otherwise mundane day.
    I think you are spot on to write this. To call the nastiness out into the open. I’m enraged that you say someone said you’d get sexual gratification from it – what? Because you’re a bloke? Talk about an ill conceived bit of mouth vomit of a comment.
    A smidge of advice from an old fart who has be burnt by the same flame of social media disappointment – don’t do groups.
    Stay away because they need you more than you’ll ever need them. They need you because they need something to get all annoyed about. If you leave maybe they’ll turn on each other,eh? Like vampires, there is a similarity I mean – they won’t come into the light and they suck away at you when your not aware.
    Slightly daft blar blaring aside, step away. Your blog is interesting and you’ll carry on doing well because, well you’re not a samey same parenting blogger.
    If we are getting to the nitty gritty – that’s what chafs the nipples of bloggersville – you’re a threat. Ah, the cut throat minuscule world of writing about your offspring – someone should write a book. Maybe it should be you?

    Peace out

  5. I loved this.

    Having been a victim of slander in a group it’s both a bit upsetting but interesting to see the reactions when they realise a spy has infiltrated their camp. I got screenshots, and funnily enough when I confronted the owner of the group, her first priority was who on EARTH is screenshotting in her oh so private clique. Not why are these grown women behaving like bitches?

    A safe haven isn’t a ‘safe place so long as you do what I want and say’ that’s a dictatorship. And if the leader suggests you get sexual gratification from the abuse, maybe he should start getting sexual gratification with his wife as opposed to strangers online.

  6. This is why i’m so glad I don’t bother with groups for the most part. I think most people would be deeply hurt and upset to find they’d been called names like this. It’s one thing to say “Mark wrote this tweet and it bothered me” but surely the only sensible answer to that should have been “go and bloody well tell Mark then”
    I’ll be honest, sometimes I don’t know how to take you and I’m never quite sure if you’re taking the piss out of me. I’m not sure that bleating to a private Facebook group about how mean and horrid you are is the way to resolve that though, so I usually just reply to you with “I don’t understand what you’ve just said” and resolve it that way. Perhaps I don’t have a strong enough sense of blog preservation.

  7. Sadly it’s not just blogging Facebook groups, it’s any FB groups – FB seems to be a magnet for nastiness and back-biting. My daughter started a FB group to support people struggling with MH issues, it got to about 3k members and I was scared for her wellbeing because i knew it would turn sour and I wasn’t sure that she would be able to cope as she has MH problems herself. And true enough, people were consistently mean, jumping to wrong conclusions, back biting and spreading gossip. She had the sense, at 17, to protect herself and move away from it. Unfortunately, after she had learnt the hard way. Thankfully I’m not in the group you mention, I’m now only in one blogging group and on the whole, that one is okay.

  8. Another reason I stayed away from the online parenting world. I’ve seen friends who blog in that community get abuse for no reason other than showing self confidence. Insane.

  9. I’m in the blogging group you refer to and have never heard of you before. The only thread I saw was somebody wondering if they should write a blog response to a blog you had written. The response was largely no, with I think one person saying that they didn’t much care for your blogging style and felt you tried to be controversial in order to gain attention. I believe Eve said a blog of yours made her want to headbutt a grapefruit? That was it. This was a blogging group that briefly talked about a blog/blogging style.

    I do think it’s odd that someone felt the need to screenshot these to you as they were fairly innocuous comments on a closed group. To me that in no way constitutes bullying. And to be honest I’m totally flabberghasted as to how and why this has escalated so quickly.

    You can choose to believe that we are all bitching and moaning about you around our cauldron if you like but honestly that is just not the reality of the group.

    1. You’re right, the comments you speak of are innocuous and they were sent to me with the question “is this you?”. By more than the one person that is getting a lot of shit for sending them too

      I think you missed the other comments though. I’ve mentioned them in my post. The ones calling me dickhead, misogynist(?!), prick, saying I was getting obscene pleasure and was “tugging myself to death” over it all. They’re the problematic ones. Why did you gloss over these?

      1. Mark – I never saw those comments I’m afraid. Did they come before or after you screenshotted the first comments to twitter and your followers started tweeting the women involved?

        1. I tweeted the two originally as you’re aware, with a simple question. No one else was involved when I received the screenshots with the vitriol. After that, however, it’s a different story.

          1. My understanding is then that by that point the women involved were being harrassed by strangers on twitter due to the screenshots you had posted that you yourself agree were innocuous. There is no mention of that in your blog. People do tend to get upset when they are being personally harrassed by people they don’t know for what they thought was an innocuous comment among friends.

            I genuinely haven’t seen the comments you refer to above and came to your blog to understand what the hell went on.

            All I can say is that the motherload you describe and the one I know are very different.

          2. I have screenshots of them but ML have admitted some of these in their post anyway. Perhaps they’ve been deleted from the group now. The women weren’t being harassed, there was nothing to harass them about, but I will check back now and see.

            You’re right though, people do get upset when they’re harassed for innocuous comments. Imagine, then, being targeted privately for nothing whatsoever, that’s worse don’t you think?

            I’m genuinely pleased the ML isn’t like that, as with that number of members I’d assume some depend on it for support.

  10. You, like the people who have ‘slandered’ you, clearly spend too much time on social media fighting your irrelevant battles. You will not be surprised that the rest of us have a collecting term for you – FaceTards.

    Seriously, I urge you – stop seeking publicity on these pathetic socisl media channels, and go outside into the sun. Get a life – literally.

  11. Most Social media, in my book is the death of reality. It’s meteoric rise has now allowed for the populous of this world to behave in ways, which in a normal social situations such as gatherings, pubs, meetings etc simply would not be allowed.

    In such normal social situations, if we say something, or act in a way which is agreeable or disagreeable, we can almost instantly judge how others react to it, subtle changes in mood, atmospheric pressure, vocal sounds and body language are constantly giving us signals which in turn allow us to correct something which is felt to be wrong. Equally it can help to reinforce what is right.. it is a massively fantastic tried and tested system.

    However, Social Media strips all that multi level sensory input away, it allows for complete autonomy, with very little immediate consequence to a persons action. What i also find manifest is the use of time on different levels as a tool or weapon, for example, if a person, who is not very eloquent or capable of making simple constructive arguments in their daily life, will find that on Media, they can plan, plot, edit or rewrite what they want to say, in their own time whereas in a real social situation, this can only be done to a degree.

    Time also when used as a weapon the fully loaded gun of vindictiveness can be perfectly timed to get a huge impact. say, if a person wants to target someone, they can plan to fire the bullet at a time of choosing, often at times when they know their victim is offline. Then like a little incendiary fire, it can smoulder away, but by the time the target as seen it, read it and ingested it, it’s too late, it has already been shared many times, posted- PM’d, Re-tweeted hash tagged, but what is worst is that no matter how a victim reacts they can never do it in a way that the social norm would dictate. Social Media at it’s best is OK, at it’s worst it is a barbaric asylum, which is a paradise for the vindictive sociopathic misanthropes to get off on, as well as any other type of hater you care to mention, it is for Jeremy Kyle candidates, and people who think Judge Rinder is the face of Justice. It is for the people the Eugenicists were right about..

    Intelligent people talk to each other, raise constructive arguments and form real alliances.. therefore I will stick to reality with friends and a coffee thanks, (apologies to the dim-witted nothing personal)

    1. This is such a good reply mate. And you’re absolutely right, the nuances in every day social situations are completely lost on all but a few social media posts. It’s often resulted in awkwardness, where someone didn’t understand the tone and things became very tense despite the initial cause a being perfectly innocent!

      1. tone is so so important,, i remember sending my wife texts in the early days of SmS, and we both at times got offended.. and i could never understand why, until we realised.. it was because of the lack of tone, mannerism.. timbre, and warmth.. in your case if you made your point in public, it would have been a whole different ball game
        But as my Grandpa used to say, “in your life there will be many times people will disagree with you, in that situation the best thing to do is Feck em”

        David Hughes recently posted…Social Media or the Destruction of Social reality?My Profile

  12. Aha, another post echoing something I’ve been hesitating about writing about. So I’ve just read your blog (having seen a comment you left on Our Rach’s feminist post) for the first time and then read the comments. Nodded my head vigorously to what most intelligent people have said here, shook my head at the bizarre idiotic comment from Slacker who clearly doesn’t understand what you do or that as a blogger you are in no small way rather reliant on spending time on social media for various reasons. I’m a member of several FB blogging groups but keep my profile rather low as I’m just amazed by how people behave on them and what they take the liberty of saying. I’ve sometimes commented in these threads and then seen the whole thread descend into utter nastiness and find myself rereading the original post to check if I misunderstood something or commented on the wrong thing! A recent thread involved someone merely asking for impartial advice after her partner made a particular comment about her blog. The ‘advice’ that came back at her involved people taking it upon themselves to call her partner all manner of names in an apparent attempt to be sympathetic eg along the lines of “Sorry your husband’s being such a dickhead” “Yeah my partner’s also a twat about my blog”. Huh? HOW is is acceptable to use language like that about someone you don’t know who is somebody else’s other half…
    Sorry for the crazy long ramble. Could have written a blog post in that time 🙂 Love your honesty and no nonsense writing. My kinda blog!

    1. Thanks so much for commenting! It’s funny isn’t it – facebook groups are set up and pushed as places for support and help, but it descends into pettiness at times. It sounds uncomfortable people commenting on that woman’s husband – that’s WAY out of line, and again shows the classic mechanism of people being binary in their outrage. It’s either nothing, or it’s ENRAGING, can’t it ever be just what it is?!

  13. Mark, I’ve read a few of your blog posts and seen you around on Twitter, and if I’m honest, I don’t always agree with you. BUT, I do so admire your honesty and straight talking. So many people, Myself included, hold back from saying a lot because the internet can be a cruel place and for a sensitive person who cannot cope mentally with the abuse that can happen in an instant for a ‘wrong’ comment or point of view. Straight talking is fine, opposing views are fine, abuse is never, ever, fine. I don’t blame you for speaking up about this incident (I have no idea of the group or what was said btw.) I have been in secret FB groups where I’ve sought help and advice on very personal matters and I would be horrified if any of those messages were copied and pasted. But, in the case of abuse of another then it’s fair play, how can anyone defend themselves when they are being insulted in private?

    1. Thank you so much for your reply! I know what you mean about agreeing – I welcome that! I’ve always said that if everyone agreed with me then I have nothing to learn, but if someone disagrees and puts their point forward then the best outcome for me is that I learn something!

      You’re absolutely right, too. How can anyone defend slating someone like that – especially when the defence is “you weren’t supposed to see it. I am a nice person”. It’s odd!
      Mark recently posted…Why Playing the Lottery Is a Man’s ThingMy Profile

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