AI gone rogue. Part 1

If you use social media, you might have come across occasions where people have been banned for no apparent reason. This happened to a friend of mine recently, and was the inspiration for this two-part short story. 

‘You have violated our community standards and been placed under a two-week ban. During this time you will not be allowed to see, write or comment on any posts. The intention of imposing such a punishment is to give you time to reflect on your behaviour so there is no recurrence. This will be your one and only warning. Signed AI 56b9/7C2.’

What? What on earth are they talking about? I haven’t posted anything wrong, in fact I’ve hardly posted at all for a couple of weeks. I think the last thing was to wish Jenny a Happy birthday. No, wait a minute. Pam had a new puppy and I asked whether it was a male or a female. There’s nothing wrong with that. Surely it wasn’t because I asked if it was a bitch?

Bitch is in the dictionary as the term for a female dog.

Pam had always said she wanted a white poodle, but I think the picture showed a black German Sheppard. It can’t be because I said ‘black,’ could it? No, that’s ridiculous, black is a colour. Hang on, did I say Alsatian or German Sheppard? Should I have said European instead of German. I can’t keep up with what constitutes an insult these days, or what I am or aren’t allowed to say. Let me look at the post again, perhaps I inadvertently mentioned something without realising.

Right, log in, user name, password.

‘Access denied.’

What??

I know they said I wouldn’t be able to see new posts but I assumed I could look at the old ones. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Log in, user name, password.

‘Access denied. This is your second attempt at circumnavigating our rules. It has been noted. In view of this contravention your ban has been extended and is now designated as three weeks. Signed AI 56b9/7C2.’

Does that mean they’ve added a further week from the original date, or is it three weeks from today? There must be a way of contacting arbitration or a help desk of some sort. How can I find out what I’ve done wrong if I can’t even get onto the site?

What if I Google for Rules and Regs? Hurray, that’s come up. Good Grief there’s about 100 pages of them. I’ll make a start.

It is imperative that anyone accessing our platform adheres to the following regulations. In the case of misdemeanour, you will be given one warning. A second breaking of any rule will result in automatic disqualification and closure of your account. By opening an account, you are granted membership status and confirm your agreement to comply with these rules. You automatically grant ‘the company’ (see para 82, sub section 469b for more information) full rights and control of any device used to access the site.

That implies I give them control of my laptop and phone, even when I’m not accessing this particular site. That sounds a bit odd, they can’t mean that. Have I read it wrong? Oh no, every rule has a dozen links, and then each one of those you have to accept options or reject before it lets you move on to the next sentence. This could take months. I’m just going to ‘Accept all’ and worry about it later. I can always change it back once I find out what I’ve done wrong.

I can’t do anymore tonight. I’ll download and carry on tomorrow.

Right, let’s get back to this with a fresh eye, although I’m not feeling that bright. My dream last night was really weird. I wonder if it was the cheese?

Even though I’ve accepted everything, it’s still taking me a full day to read through a single regulation if I follow the links. Half of it is Gobble-de-Gook anyway. I should be used to the heretofores, and thereinafters from my solicitor’s training, so how do they expect someone without any legal knowledge to understand it all?

This is ridiculous. Three days I’ve wasted and I’m still none the wiser. Of course! Why didn’t I think of that before? I can contact Pam and get her to send me a copy of her post. Even if my response has been deleted, it might remind me what I said. I want to find out what changed her mind about the type of dog she got anyway. I wonder if it was a rescue?

To be continued next week, providing I’m not being watched. 😀

© Val Portelli January 2022

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