Is Kirk Cameron Too Quick to Judge? Social Media Is a Two-Edged Sword
Actor-turned-Jesus-freak believes (or wants gullible customers to believe) Facebook is stopping his "unstoppable" movie.
Kirk Cameron took to both social media and conservative news media to whine about what he thought was Facebook's attack on Christianity.
Mr. Cameron noticed that Facebook would not allow him to post a link to his movie website: unstoppablethemovie.com. He immediately jumped to the conclusion that "we have been shut down by Facebook".
It seems incredible that Facebook would have been so quick to censor Kirk Cameron before he even had the chance to introduce his new site. Doesn't it?
It is incredible. As in, Mr. Cameron is not quite credible.
The truth is that Cameron purchased a used domain only a month ago.
According to Archive.org, Kirk Cameron's domain existed for several years prior to his acquisition. There may have been abusive or spammy content on the previous web site that was recorded in Facebook's database of sites to block.
Facebook employs several techniques to protect its users from spam and malware. Facebook's link shim is used to check, filter, and sanitize (rewrite) links that may pose a security problem. It appears that Facebook's spam prevention system is what caught up Kirk Cameron. His site's content was not the problem. It may have been the code behind it. Facebook offers a debugging tool to determine what may cause problems on Facebook's network.
Here is Kirk Cameron's complaint that he posted to his own Facebook page:
Calling all friends of Faith, Family, and Freedom! Facebook has officially "blocked" me and you (and everyone else) from posting any link to my new movie at UnstoppableTheMovieDOTcom, labeling the content as "abusive", "unsafe", and "spammy"! I can’t even write the real link here, or Facebook would block this post too!! Try to post it yourself and see! We have been officially shut down by Facebook and unable to get any response from them. This is my most personal film about faith, hope, and love, and about why God allows bad things to happen to good people. What is "abusive" or "unsafe" about that?! Please help us encourage Facebook to unblock our website soon by sharing this post with your friends so more people can see this transparent, faith-building project.
This window would have displayed to Cameron and given him options to resolve the problem.
A link is offered to notify Facebook if the automated content block is an error. This ability to appeal a content block would not likely be available if Facebook had made an intentional "official" block, as Cameron claims.
A wolf in sheep's clothing?
So was Kirk Cameron really clueless about the history of his secondhand domain or is he taking advantage of the media to promote his film? What is more clever than asking your followers to see if they can post a link to your site... and winning you a heap of gooey link popularity to enhance your search engine rankings?
Kudos to Kirk Cameron's marketing gimmicks. Shame on Kirk Cameron's deceit and bogus paranoia. Nobody was out to get him on Facebook.
YouTube is another matter.
Cameron's exaggerated Christian-victim hype may have backfired on him. An army of contrary YouTube users has apparently flagged his trailer as spam, causing YouTube to pull his video and leave a black hole on his own web site.
What can a web worker learn from this fiasco?
Recognize that free social media like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube goes both ways. It is not guaranteed free advertising and you don't really control your message. The public has the ability to push back. Social media gives you the ability to stand in a crowded room and shout. But everyone else in that room can shout back, louder.
YouTube is a great resource for a video content distribution network but you should take steps to ensure you have a backup plan to host your own video. You may also want to be careful about the related videos that appear at the end of your video. They may contain contrary responses that may damage your brand or message.