This week, I heard from several Morro Bay residents who expressed concern about censorship pertaining to discussions about our local elections.
Nextdoor, one of the leading community-centric social networking platforms, is a lightning rod for discussions on local politics. Since my account was temporarily deactivated, residents wondered whether or not I was “de-platformed” for political reasons. Several of my posts had disappeared without explanation. Nextdoor community leads and members of the review team felt obligated to explain Nextdoor moderation policies and procedures to residents who were concerned that expressing opinions on local politics could result in their accounts being deactivated. Sadly, some who were kind enough to support me publicly on Nextdoor also had their accounts temporarily deactivated.
In 2018, I encountered similar circumstances on the same platform. In October that year, I raised concerns about cannabis mogul Helios Dayspring and his ties to now-elected members of the Morro Bay City Council, including Mayor John Headding, councilmembers Dawn Addis and Jen Ford. As we all know by now, Dayspring was under federal investigation for bribing and attempting to bribe local officials, including former District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill and former Grover Beach mayor John Shoals. This year, he was convicted and sentenced to prison. My posts were removed and my account was temporarily deactivated. My posts and comments would be routinely reported, removed and my account was repeatedly deactivate for unspecified violations of Community Guidelines.
At the time, I reached out to known community leads who vehemently denied being involved in orchestrating any prolonged effort to censor me. We had a rather tense back-and-forth. But at the end of the day, I believed they weren’t involved. And I don’t believe they are involved in what’s happening now. Though they can vote on keeping or removing reported content, they have no control over Nextdoor accounts.
I encourage residents to NOT harass the community leads and/or members of the Nextdoor Morro Bay review team.
Here is where things get interesting.
At one point, my account was permanently deactivated in 2019. This was not public information. I reached out to Nextdoor’s corporate office in San Francisco and even made contact with the CEO’s office. An internal investigation was launched into what occurred with my account. My account was eventually reinstated while the investigation was underway. I had learned that an emotionally troubled Morro Bay resident, who appears particularly obsessed with me for reasons unclear, allegedly reported me “hundreds of times” to the platform via their reporting system and had apparently lobbied Nextdoor directly to have me removed from the platform entirely. I’m unsure whether the individual has any ties to elected officials or political campaigns. I have never met this individual in-person, but we have occasionally communicated on Nextdoor.
This year, I made a comment opining about how the perfect storm of COVID-19 pandemic and the sharp divisions associated with national politics has collectively affected our mental health to a point that many of us seemingly forgot to have a civil conversation with each other. This comment seemingly provoked a rather opinionated Morro Bay resident into personally attacking me. Wasn’t sure why they attacked me since I wasn’t referring to her or anyone in particular. In one of their comments, they referred to my account being restricted for an extended period — therefore how would I know if people weren’t having civil conversations on Nextdoor if I wasn’t able to access them. According to Nextdoor, the only people who knew about my account being deactivated for that specific, extended period of time were me and the individual who lobbied aggressively to have me de-platformed.
I don’t believe I was targeted by any political organization or candidate, but I have reason to believe that I’ve been cyberstalked by one troubled individual for nearly four years. Today, I blocked this person from all mutual social media platforms we’re on. Any further communication from this individual to me that breaches the social media blocks in place will immediately result in legal action. I will not give them the satisfaction of revealing their identity on my website. The only time I would be mentioning their name, in the future, would be as a recipient of a civil harassment restraining order.
Sadly, this is not my first rodeo with people cyberstalking me because they disagree with my words and actions. What I learned is that people attempt to censor and suppress others because they are inherently insecure about their own positions — and they feel the need to lash out in order to protect their vulnerable selves. In this case, the whole situation is unfortunate because it created an uproar of speculation of who is censoring who and what. In reality, it all boils down to someone who should find another hobby if they can’t handle their powder in online discourse.