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Facebook Approved Religious Harassment Needs to Stop Now

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  • Michael Brown
    Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries. He is the author of 25 books and hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, the Line of Fire.
By Michael Brown, CP Op-Ed Contributor
October 7, 2013|9:03 am

Christian ministry pages on Facebook are being targeted for profane harassment, and Facebook is turning a blind eye. I believe it is time for those of us who use social media, especially Facebook, to send them a message.

Last year, I documented Facebook's glaring double standard when it came to allowing all kinds of obscene, Jesus-mocking Facebook pages (along with pages encouraging anti-Israel violence) while shutting down Christian pages that differed respectfully with homosexual activism (in this case, the page devoted to discussion of my book A Queer Thing Happened to America).

Thankfully, after bringing national attention to this issue and working with an internal contact at Facebook, the page was reactivated, with apologies from Facebook. (For the relevant stories, see here and here.) But the extremely offensive sites, replete with profane, Christ-defacing graphics and horrific anti-Jewish images, were not shut down, despite the clear standards articulated in Facebook's Community Guidelines.

Still, if Facebook wants to allow groups of all kinds to use their services, that's their prerogative, as long as Facebook doesn't violate its own standards and allow anyone to harass or intimidate others. Unfortunately, Facebook is now permitting a new version of cyber-attacks on Christian pages, and despite working with my internal contact at Facebook and despite others complaining about this very issue, Facebook told me nothing would be done to resolve the problem.

To give the relevant details, a few weeks ago, my staff noticed that there were "Likes" appearing in response to posts on my AskDrBrown Facebook page, and these "Likes" were from new Facebook pages, including "Jesus F**king Christ. Slut Mary's Bast*rd."

Yes, this is actually the name of a Facebook Fan page – spelled out in full – and the page is as profane as the name. Yet Facebook says the page does not violate community guidelines for hate speech against a religious group!

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Facebook also had no problem with pages like "Christo Fascist Bigots Run This Business" and "Virgin? Mary Should Have Aborted," the latter page featuring a gay and lesbian, sado-masochist version of the Last Supper.

What this means is that anyone participating on my AskDrBrown Facebook page – which reaches 40,000 plus per week – would constantly be confronted with vulgar, anti-Jesus profanity, since there's no way to remove these "Likes" once they're posted. (In contrast, an offensive comment can be removed and an offending participant can be blocked.)

So, when someone would post a question on my Facebook timeline, asking me about the meaning of a verse in the Bible or asking if I'd seen a particular news item about Israel or sharing a beautiful, spiritual insight, soon enough you would see, "Jesus F**king Christ. Slut Mary's Bast*rd and Christo Fascist Bigots Run This Business like this."

How can this be legal? How can Facebook permit people to post Christ-mocking profanity on someone else's page?

Again, if Facebook feels that these offensive pages do not contain "hate speech" against a religious group and they want to have an "anything goes" environment, that's their business, as long as they're consistent (which would obviously mean rewriting their Community Guidelines).

But it is absolutely unacceptable for Facebook to say there's no way to block these groups from "Liking" posts on other pages, thereby empowering these hate groups to plaster their vulgar profanity for all to see. And can you imagine what would happen if, God forbid, Westboro Baptist Church was allowed to start a "God Hates Fags" Facebook page after which they started "Liking" different LGBT pages on Facebook, posting "God Hates Fags" everywhere, with no way to remove it?

On October 14, 2010, CNN reported that, "Today, Facebook announced that they're making new efforts to respond quickly when hateful speech violates the terms of service and needs to be removed. And this isn't just routine TOS [Terms of Service] policing, either.

"Facebook Public Policy Communications Manager Andrew Noyes wrote in an email today that Facebook 'intends to work closely with GLAAD [the so-called Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation] and other LGBT organizations on future initiatives.'"

In light of this pro-gay activist initiative, do you really think Facebook would permit a "God Hates Fags" page to exist, let alone allow it to post "Likes" on other Facebook pages, plastering that offensive name everywhere? And do you really think they would tell the offended LGBT groups, "Sorry, but there's nothing we can do?" Yet that is what they have told me, along with other Christian groups who have complained.

I for one am very glad that a "God Hates Fags" page would be banned on Facebook, and I don't think it's fair for anyone to be able to post offensive comments or use profanity on other people's pages – and that includes posting "Likes" containing offensive and profane names. Facebook simply needs to come up with a mechanism to make this happen, and it's up to us to call them to account.

So, let's do what we can by spreading this information far and wide, by contacting Facebook directly, and by putting whatever rightful pressure on them we can, urging them to do the right thing. And for those who are attorneys or who have social media connections, use the resources at your disposal to call Facebook to account.

Otherwise, what is now a terribly offensive trickle might quickly become such a polluting flood that it will drive us all away.

Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries. He is the author of 22 books and hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, the Line of Fire. Follow him atAskDrBrown on Facebookor @drmichaellbrownon Twitter.
 

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