The Double Standard at Facebook

The Double Standard at Facebook

December 8, 2010

Dear Facebook,

Today I write to ask you not only when you are going to correct the error you made in shutting down the business page associated with our nonprofit, MILITARY MISSIONS, INC., but to also ask you why you would shut us down, and at the same time, allow a huge nonprofit organization, the USO, to do the very same thing to our CAUSE Wall for OPERATION SEND CHRISTMAS!

By now, if you are actually monitoring your HELP CENTER, you should be well aware of the fact that you shut down the business page for Military Missions, Inc.  If you are not yet aware of this issue, despite the fact that you have received numerous emails, daily, for almost two weeks, I will refer you to this link where you can get the full explanation. http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=481950849867.  You can also get some further perspective from this link: http://bit.ly/i1NsbU

I’ve been extremely frustrated by the fact that you haven’t answered any of my emails regarding this situation, FACEBOOK.  I’m even more annoyed to find that many days during this same two week period of time that multiple people are posting their product on our Facebook CAUSES wall for OPERATION S.E.N.D. CHRISTMAS.  While I am sure that their product is a great one which will support our troops, I don’t understand why it is okay for two HUGE nonprofits, WARRIOR WISH FOUNDATION and the USO, to do the very same thing for which you shut down little old Military Missions, Inc.  Did I mention that some of these posts can’t be deleted by any of us at Military Missions?

Here is my question to you, FACEBOOK.  Are you going to reinstate our business page for MILITARY MISSIONS, INC. (www.facebook.com/MilitaryMissionsInc), or FACEBOOK, are you going to shut down the USO and WARRIOR WISH FOUNDATION?  Which is it going to be?  A policy is a policy.

If the USO isn’t condoning these postings on pages all over the Facebook world, then the USO should not be punished, in my opinion, for the actions of those pushing William Kitchens – The Way Christmas Ought To Be (A Soldier’s Christmas).  However, MILITARY MISSIONS INC. should not be punished for the actions taken by other parties knowing that we had nothing to do with these said actions. The individuals pushing the William Kitchen’s product should be the ones to pay the price. I know you did punish the individuals who were posting and tagging our organization.

I am wondering, FACEBOOK, what would happen if you shut down the USO’s Facebook page.  How long would the USO let that decision go unnoticed?  Is there a Facebook hotline number for nonprofits that take in donations totaling more than $100,000 a year?   I’m pretty sure that the USO is big enough that they would be able to get your attention in less than a minute.

Comparing Military Missions, Inc. to the USO is like comparing a tiny drop of water to the ocean.  Here is a quick comparison:

In 2009 the USO reports a total income of $253,311,123.  Military Missions, Inc. reports a total income of $56,694.

The USO reports that they spend $477,736 to pay the salary of one person, their CEO, Sloan Gibson.  Military Missions, Inc. has a full time CEO.  I happen to be wearing that hat.  I am paid nothing.  Not one red cent!  I work a minimum of twelve hours a day.  I don’t want a dime.  I’m giving back to those who serve on my behalf and I am very glad to do it.  Fortunately, my husband is willing to be the bread winner for our family and he even helps out a lot at home because I work longer hours than he does.

The USO reports a Board Size of 33 people with a paid staff of 424 people.  No telling how much those individuals make, but paying 424 people has got to cost a pretty penny.    We have a small board of 7 people.  Our office staff is made up of volunteers, approximately 10 people (including board members), none of whom get paid.

The USO claims, on their website, that total program expenses are $215,301,415.  (http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/veterans-and-military/uso-in-arlington-va-452)

The only expenses we have, which we have taken on in the past year due to our growth is as follows:  Rent and utilities for our office space, phone and internet, and expenses for a computer. Our monthly bills average about $800.  That’s it.  Everything else is donated.  Even our office space is rented to us at about 20% of what it would cost if we were being charged the full rent.

I realize that the USO was founded in 1941.  They have a pretty good head start on Military Missions, Inc. I realize that the USO does many amazing things to encourage and support our troops.  I am certain that countless lives are touched and changed by the incredible efforts of the USO. I also realize that they spend a lot of money for advertising and to have full time paid employees on their staff.  You can accomplish a lot more if you have the funding to hire people and get the word out across the nation.

We will never be able to make the same kind of impact that is made by the USO, but that is not our goal.  I might point out that I never intended to start a nonprofit.  I was just a Marine mom, sending out care package to her deployed son and his buddies.  I started this endeavor from my dining room table in 2004.  When I realized in 2007, that my efforts that year had brought in $12,000 from friends and family in our area who were stepping in to help, and I realized that people in our area wanted a way to give back, I knew I should consider taking the steps to create a nonprofit organization.

Military Missions, Inc. was approved as a 501(c)(3) in January of 2008.  The first year we brought in $21,993.  Last year, we brought in $56,694.  We do all of this simply by word of mouth and the hard work of dedicated volunteers.

I don’t run in corporate circles so I don’t know any big spenders.  I spent 12 years teaching elementary school and 8 years home educating my children.  Military Missions, Inc. is a nonprofit based on a mother’s heart.  It’s not about how many packages we can send out or how much money we can bring in.  It’s about knowing every name on our list, how we came to have that name (in other words knowing his story shared by his family, friends, or the soldiers in his unit), and then making sure that the individual gets a care package from us every month, for the duration of his/her deployment.  It’s also about our hospitalized veterans whom we serve on a regular basis here in Lexington, Kentucky. We can’t forget about those who have served and sacrificed and must now live with circumstances which are life-altering.

I never intended to be where I am today, in a full time, nonpaying position, that tends to keep me away from home far longer than I would choose, but I can tell you that I wouldn’t have it any other way.  People are looking for a way to support the troops.  People want to make it personal.  You just can’t make it personal with a lot of these big entities.  Writing a check is simply not personal.  Sure, it’s a way to give, but many of us want to do more.  Many of us want to serve our country in a different way.  I can’t enlist, but I can sure do something to make a difference right here in my little corner of the world.

FACEBOOK, you have been a wonderful tool for us, the tiny small profit, Military Missions, Inc.  We have tapped into the social network craze just like everyone else and we have found that because using Facebook’s business page feature doesn’t come with a monetary cost, we can fit your platform right into our budget.

In using your business page feature, we found that people were interested in meeting ourHero of the Day.  We found that people wanted to see how many different states were represented in the mail each day as we receive cards from across the nation to place in our care packages.  We found that the troops wanted to join our business page and be a part of our Military Missions family, so much that we have printed 3000 letters to be included in our care packages going out next week with the web address of our Facebook page which you have shut down!  Many deployed soldiers have already “liked” our page, but by now, they are probably very disappointed to see it has vanished.

I’ve got a lot to do today FACEBOOK, so I will have to close.  I will ask you this question one more time. Are you going to reinstate our business page for MILITARY MISSIONS, INC. (www.facebook.com/MilitaryMissionsInc), or FACEBOOK, are you going to shut down the USO and WARRIOR WISH FOUNDATION?  Which is it going to be?  A policy is a policy.  A double standard is a double standard.

I’ve tried to call.  I’ve tried to write.  I’ve followed your Customer Support prompts daily for almost two weeks.  People are suggesting I go to the media.  I sure don’t want to throw myself out there for my 15 minutes of fame, but it might be my only option.  I saw a young girl on the Today Show this morning, speaking out about cyber bullying on Facebook.  Maybe she couldn’t get through to your HELP CENTER either.

Beth Pennington

Founder, Military Missions, Inc.

Originally published by the author at open.salon.com

 

 

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