When I first set out to write a book about my experiences in Afghanistan I was informed by Army Media Communications that it could not:
Criticise our allies, other Government Departments or past/current Prime Ministers.
Include anything that would undermine the Army’s reputation.
Since I planned to do all these things it became immediately apparent that, in order to escape censorship, I would have to leave the army reserve.
I now find myself subject to censorship from an unexpected quarter.
Initially there was some, not unreasonable, objection to the doodle on the front cover of my notebook. This was resolved with gaffer tape.
However, the Facebook censors have also determined that the book’s title is unsuitable. With good reason Facebook insists that “posts can’t contain profanity, harassment, or references to your audience’s personal characteristics (such as gender, race, age or name).”
So, it turns out that ‘Old Man’ was a little too personal and has now been redacted from the Facebook page name and profile image. However, the book itself remains unapologetically unchanged.
I can’t help but wonder what Mark Zuckerberg would make of this? Facemash, the precursor to Facebook was shut down after it was deemed inappropriate.
SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.