Mark Zuckerberg

Could Facebook officials censor religious content? Many people say they already do

Could Facebook officials censor religious content? Many people say they already do

Have you ever been in “Facebook jail?” Censored if you try to start dialogue about something that’s religiously or ethically noxious?

I’m spotlighting a very interesting Washington Post piece about the inner workings of Facebook, which in my mind are harder to figure out than a CIA organizational chart. For the sake of this blog, we’re interested in news coverage of the religion part of this equation and what this has to do with the power that Facebook has over a good portion of the globe.

An accompanying photo shows Zahra Billoo, a hijab-clad woman who is the executive director of the San Francisco office of the Council of American-Islamic Relations. So, two weeks after Trump was elected, 

Billoo ... posted to Facebook an image of a handwritten letter mailed to a San Jose mosque and quoted from it: “He’s going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews.”
The post -- made to four Facebook accounts -- contained a notation clarifying that the statement came from hate mail sent to the mosque, as Facebook guidelines advise.
 “I couldn’t tolerate just sitting with it and being silent,” Latour said in an interview. “I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin, like my kids’ innocence was stolen in the blink of an eye.”
Facebook removed the post from two of the accounts -- Billoo’s personal page and the council’s local chapter page -- but allowed identical posts to remain on two others -- the organization’s national page and Billoo’s public one. The civil rights attorney was baffled. After she re-posted the message on her personal page, it was again removed, and Billoo received a notice saying she would be locked out of Facebook for 24 hours.
“How am I supposed to do my work of challenging hate if I can’t even share information showing that hate?” she said.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

There they go again: Digital gods at Facebook zap some big Catholic pages (news media yawn)

There they go again: Digital gods at Facebook zap some big Catholic pages (news media yawn)

Every now and then, the principalities and powers at Facebook do something that ticks off lots of religious people, usually morally and doctrinally conservative people.

Most of the time, Facebook leaders issue a kind of "the technology made us do it" apology and life rolls on -- until the next time. In most cases, these alleged Facebook sins are treated as "conservative news," with coverage at Fox News and various alternative, religious news sources online. Something like this.

The GetReligion "mirror image" question, as always, is this: How much media attention would these news stories have received if Facebook folks had shut down lots of pages belonging to LGBTQ groups (or Muslims, or environmentalists, or #BlackLivesMatter networks). I know this is hard to imagine, but please try.

So this time, a bunch of Catholic websites were taken down. Here is the entire Associated Press report on this, at least as it appeared at ABC News, The Washington Post, The New York Times, etc.

Facebook is blaming a technical glitch for knocking several Catholic-focused Facebook pages with millions of followers offline for more than a day.
Catholic radio network Relevant Radio says on its website that its "Father Rocky" Facebook page went down on Monday and wasn't restored until late Tuesday night. It says more than 20 other prominent Catholic pages were also suspended.
The shutdown prompted speculation among some page administrators that they were being intentionally censored.
A Facebook spokesperson apologized for the disruption Wednesday, telling The Associated Press in a statement that all pages have been restored. Facebook says the incident "was triggered accidentally by a spam detection tool."

My favorite detail missing from that little story is that one of the sites knocked offline was the "Papa Francisco Brazil" page dedicated to the life and work of Pope Francis.

Now there's a nice headline, for those included to write it: Facebook zaps Pope Francis page in Brazil.

Please respect our Commenting Policy