by Tom Pappert, Big League Politics:
Facebook banned the popular veterans page for the second time this week.
Dysfunction Veterans, a Facebook page run by Michael Rivers, himself a veteran, was banned from Facebook for allegedly violating its content policies regarding firearms.
Speaking to Big League Politics, Rivers explained that his page was banned for buying ads on Facebook to promote a contest where entries could win an AR-15 rifle, even though according to the letter of Facebook’s community guidelines, his promotion was following Facebook’s rules.
“We do try to stay within Facebook’s guidelines, they just make them up as they go along,” said Rivers. “We ran a contest, a promo to give away an AR-15. It was a licensed firearms company, and we are an online retailer. According to Facebook rules, it’s okay because we are two online retailers that follow all applicable state and federal guidelines.”
He went on to explain that 8 days into the advertisement, which was approved by Facebook, they removed the advertisement and banned the staff member who posted it for 30 days. Rivers immediately ended the advertisement and removed all reference of it from the page, but Facebook proceeded to ban members of his staff two more times for the same, deleted advertisement.
“They banned us again for the same exact thing,” said Rivers. “So again, we appealed it, and then yesterday the page was unpublished and they cited the same thing again.”
“We had ended the promo last month, midway through it. After two or three weeks of not running it, they banned us for the same advertisement.”
Rivers says he appealed the latest ban and supplied Facebook with relevant excerpts from their own community guidelines as evidence his page did nothing wrong. He is currently waiting to hear back from the big tech platform.
In addition to selling merchandise via the Dysfunction Veterans online store, Rivers also runs a non-profit organization focused on providing housing to homeless veterans, DV Farm, that sometimes receives cash injections from the profits made from the Dysfunctional Veterans retail operation. Rivers provides housing and support to up to five homeless veterans at a time, and says his organization focuses on the “problem child” cases that are ignored by the Veterans Administration and other veterans organizations.
While Rivers remained optimistic about DV Farm’s ability to continue, it seems Facebook’s decision to remove the page for a post that seemingly did not violate the big tech platform’s rules may impact the non-profit.
“We are not federally or state funded so we rely solely on donations,” said Rivers. “Every month, of course, the non-profit being brand new, there would be a shortfall. We try to keep it in the black, but it can be an expensive project.”
“No matter what, whatever I make off the Dysfunctional Veterans store, goes to making sure the non-profit keeps running.”
Rivers also revealed that a similar incident happened in the days before the 2016 presidential election. His page was removed by Facebook without an explanation, and after other veterans who are now CEO’s and prominent business individuals reached out to Facebook on Rivers’ behalf, the page was reinstated. Rivers still has no idea why his page was removed, or why it was reinstated.
“In the last few days before the voting started, we were on fire. Every meme we posted was reaching millions,” said Rivers. “And we were shut down, and of course they would not show us what we posted that violated the community guidelines.”