Today I’m going to write about something that happened just last night, with which I became intimately involved. The Cultus Deorum group on Facebook has disappeared. And it seems like an organised attack on Roman polytheist groups, as others also have vanished. Moreso, the very same thing happened over a year ago to the Hellenic Polytheistic Community group.
I first noticed the issue when one of the admins added me to the Cultus Deorum backup group. She had posted there that the group was made because for her the old group had vanished. At the time, I could still see the old group so quickly posted a message there for any others who could still see it, in the hope that they could quickly try and save material from the group. I myself then copied the group description to the new group, and started downloading as many files from their files section as I could.
For many documents, I had to try a few times as I got a notification the content was no longer available. After a while though the notification kept coming up, and when re-loading the whole group I couldn’t see it anymore. I managed to save several documents, which I then uploaded to the new group, but not everything, although now that members of the old group are finding their way to the new one, documents they had saved, or simply had downloaded at some earlier time, are being re-uploaded, as are photo’s people had shared, and so on. The two admins of Cultus Deorum decided to make me an admin as well, and together we worked through the hectic circumstances. I introduced some ideas from managing the Hellenic Polytheistic Community group, which I re-established when this very same thing happened to it about a year ago. As of this writing, the new Cultus Deorum group is back at little over 150 members, still not everyone from the old group, but we’ll get there.
At this time, it is still unknown why the group vanished like this, whether it was reported to Facebook and Facebook just went into orbital bombardment, or whether it was hacked or something. Facebook would typically send some sort of notice to the group admins before executing such a harsh measure, but we can’t rule out that Facebook did indeed remove the group. Regardless, someone out there deliberate launched an attack against Cultus Deorum, and at least one other Roman polytheist group that I know of. Whether they reported us to Facebook for some reason, or whether they used hacking, is unknown and kind of irrelevant. The fact that this was so much like the Hellenic Polytheistic Community a year ago made it especially stand out, though again, we can’t be sure that the same party is behind both attacks. The two admins of the old Cultus Deorum group have their suspicions, but no evidence.
The next section is some advice for anyone who is an admin of a group on Facebook: the same thing could potentially happen to you. I advise you to save everything you don’t want to lose in case this happens; by downloading files, copying the group description and rules, keeping a list of members and their profile URL, and so on. It is also a good measure to keep track of members by making a spreadsheet (can be done for free with Google Drive), perhaps share it with your admin colleagues if you have any, and enter new members, their profile URL, date of applying to the group, date of approval or refusal, and date of blocking people if that happens. Also you should have a note section on why you let people in, if they applied before but left, etc. This is a great tool to keep track on people and try to figure out possible trolls or spammers and such. Make sure to check the profiles before admitting them to the group. Obviously, this is all pointless if just everyone can apply to a group and immediately become a member, or if any member can add new people. But if your group is closed and admins have to approve new members, this method is invaluable.
As a final notice, it is sad to see things like this happen, even more so if it appears to be deliberate actions targeting polytheist or pagan groups like this. This time, the occurrence was caught as it was happening, I literally saw the group slowly disappear as I scrambled to save the documents I could. But it could happen when there is no one online to notice it or do anything about; so take your precautions! And if worst comes to worst, a new Facebook group isn’t hard to make, though it may take a while to rebuild. But polytheism has survived worse, so stay strong and keep courage. We can withstand these storms, and grow and flourish once more.