From the Editor
Winter 2021

Dear Readers,
Every time I open a new submission, I get a frisson of excitement: So many possibilities – a new idea, a new voice, a new hope – even when the piece is from someone we’ve already published. Sometimes I know immediately that we want it in the magazine, but much of the time I am thinking  maybe or perhaps. Then I send the piece off to the editorial team for their thoughts. I accept pieces we agree on and pull together a handful to create an issue. We add art and poetry, sometimes musical compositions, and as many Short Takes as take our fancy.
Since Persimmon Tree is a quarterly, we get many, many more submissions than we can run. Sometimes we turn a piece down because the topic doesn’t fit our needs. Or because it is so much like what our readers often care about – aging, aging of parents, worries about children, health – that we’ve already run far too many good renditions of those topics. Sometimes we reject a piece because it needs far more editing than we, as volunteers, can handle.
That is why we say no. Now, let’s shift to Facebook. Facebook, a business with millions and millions of readers. Personal pages with friends. Topical pages. Pages for specific groups. Cat pages. Political pages. Even Persimmon Tree has a page on Facebook. Many pages include news feeds; many if not most pages have ads. We submitted a new ad for the Fall issue, alerting readers to the many wonderful tributes to Ruth Bader Ginsberg from our readers. The opening line:
“When Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, we invited you to share your thoughts on this devastating loss. The response was … ”
Facebook rejected the ad.
Why? Well, Facebook has been receiving a lot of criticism both from inside and outside about their posting lying, vicious, false, and often dangerous messages from unsavory groups, so they may have been looking for ways to clean up their act. The New York Times did report – without a trace of irony – “that the company’s aspirations of improving the world are often at odds with the desire for dominance.” But don’t forget that when the president said, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Mark Zuckerberg responded that his words didn’t violate Facebook rules and refused to take them down.
So, we were a little surprised when our webmistress received this:

Hi Laura,
Your ad was rejected because it doesn’t comply with our advertising policies.
To learn more, view your ad in Account Quality. You can request a review if you think your ad was incorrectly rejected.

Which of the words do you think tripped their algorithm or tipped off a human being?
Or was it her job?
I am baffled.
And I dissent.
Sue Leonard




6 Comments on “From the Editor

  1. I believe that the “dark words” were “devastating loss,” for the following reasons: Justice Ginsburg had specifically asked that choice of her successor not be on the agenda until the next administration is in place. and while Rose v. Wade is being attacked, women’s rights are denigrated and the choice was already whispered to be another pocket of power for the White House leader.

  2. I have heard of equally bizarre rejections from Facebook. One was a rejection of an innocuous poem by a woman poet — turns out that an employee of Facebook who knew the poet and had some kind of personal animus towards her rejected the poem!!

  3. I also love reading your editorial. WHAT? I’m sure I’m not alone in saying as a women writer in love with words I have none about the Facebook reply. I continue to be left speechless and wordless as events unfold today. Thank you for your raw honesty, welcome creativity, and for the opportunity for us to be part of Persimmon Tree.

  4. I, for one, cannot fathom why the ad was rejected, but it totally fits my impression that the algorithms Facebook uses are useless in terms of actual monitoring/ improving/thinking about content. Just another reason to hate Facebook and all it represents.

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