Facebook doesn't seem to think Tide Pods are a joking matter.
Tom Champlin, who owns the libertarian news aggregator The Liberty Review and runs its associated Facebook page, was slapped with a 30-day Facebook ban for posting a Tide Pod meme. His post showed a screenshot of a teen who was stupid enough to bite into a Tide Pod; the caption said, "This is why I can't pay for your health insurance."
Facebook sent Champlin a message telling him that his post had violated the site's community standards and he would be temporarily locked out of his profile as a punishment.
"I can't use it for anything," Champlin says. "I can't friend, message, post, or operate pages."
Facebook usually takes this step after another user reports content that violates the company's community standards. But it's not clear what Facebook policy was undermined by the meme, which is clearly using the Tide Pod Moment to make a political joke. Facebook prohibits "content that promotes or encourages suicide or any other type of self-injury, including self-mutilation and eating disorders," but the post wasn't actually advocating self-harm of any sort.
As a private business, Facebook is within its rights to restrict content for any reason it wants. But the company claims to "allow humor, satire, [and] social commentary," and Champlin's post clearly fits the bill.
Maybe Facebook is just being extra-super-duper cautious about Tide-Pod-related content, given all the recent attention being paid to the alleged craze. As with so many other internet memes, there's no logical origin story here. A bunch of social-media-using teens apparently decided that challenging each other to "drink bleach" was so 2017; in 2018, we should eat Tide Pods instead. (Some people think a two-year-old Onion article about a toddler who desperately wants to swallow a Tide Pod may have inspired the meme.)
It's sadly true that thousands of kids ages six and younger eat highly poisonous Tide Pods each year, though only a handful of them die as a result. But those were accidents involving little kids who didn't know better. Aside from a handful of yo-yos on YouTube, it simply isn't the case that a host of teenagers are deliberately eating Tide Pods. It's a joke, akin to the faux public mourning of Harambe the gorilla.
No one should be freaked out about Tide Pod jokes. That includes you, Facebook.
Clarification: Champlin's primary Facebook profile page was suspended; he is currently using alternate accounts to circumvent the ban.
Photo Credit: JRos / Dreamstime