Facebook apologizes to Franklin Graham for temporary ban
Facebook apologized to Rev. Franklin Graham for temporarily banning his page over a 2016 post about transgender bathroom use and Bruce Springsteen.
Graham posted on Friday that his page was banned for 24 hours last week for a 2016 post about a North Carolina debate over HB 2, a "bathroom bill" regarding transgender bathroom use. Graham had criticized rock star Bruce Springsteen for canceling a concert in North Carolina over the bill at the time.
"Bruce Springsteen, a long-time gay rights activist, has canceled his North Carolina concert. He says the NC law #HB2 to prevent men from being able to use women's restrooms and locker rooms is going "backwards instead of forwards." Well, to be honest, we need to go back! Back to God. Back to respecting and honoring His commands. Back to common sense. Mr. Springsteen, a nation embracing sin and bowing at the feet of godless secularism and political correctness is not progress. I’m thankful North Carolina has a governor, Pat McCrory, and a lieutenant governor, Dan Forest, and legislators who put the safety of our women and children first! HB2 protects the safety and privacy of women and children and preserves the human rights of millions of faith-based citizens of this state," the post read.
Sunday morning, Graham posted a screenshot of an apology he was sent from Facebook.
"It looks like we made a mistake and removed something you posted on Facebook that didn't go against our Community standards. We want to apologize and let you know that we've restored your content and removed any blocks on your account related to this incorrect action," the message said.
Facebook also made a statement to Fox News, saying, “A Page admin for Franklin Graham’s Facebook Page did receive a 24-hour feature block after we removed a post for violating our hate speech policies. Upon re-reviewing this content, we identified that the post does not violate our hate speech policy and has been restored.”
With the screenshot, Graham thanked Facebook for the apology.
"Thank you to Facebook for the apology, the admission that my April 9, 2016 post didn’t go against your Community Standards, and the corrective action taken," he wrote.
Graham is a popular figure among evangelicals and is the son of famed late evangelist Billy Graham. He's also president of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. His Facebook page has over 7.4 million followers.
Graham appeared on Fox News' "Fox and Friends" Sunday morning to talk about Facebook's apology.
While thanking Facebook for its reversal, he added, "the problem with Facebook is ... if you disagree with their position on sexual orientation then you can be classified as hate speech or that you're a racist, and this is a problem."
Thursday, The New York Times took a critical look at how Facebook monitors its content.
Facebook has 15,000 moderators, "largely unskilled workers," the article said, and every other Tuesday, several dozen Facebook employees, "mostly young engineers and lawyers," gather to review the company guidelines. The moderators are mostly in distant locations, like Morocco and the Philippines, and some rely upon Google translate.
"The closely held rules are extensive, and they make the company a far more powerful arbiter of global speech than has been publicly recognized or acknowledged by the company itself," The New York Times wrote.
An unnamed whistleblower at Facebook who "feared that the company was exercising too much power" provided The New York Times with over 1,400 pages from Facebook's internal rulebooks. Those pages "consist of dozens of unorganized PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets." The hate speech guidelines consist of "200 jargon-filled, head-spinning pages."
The New York Times concluded, "An examination of the files revealed numerous gaps, biases and outright errors. As Facebook employees grope for the right answers, they have allowed extremist language to flourish in some countries while censoring mainstream speech in others."
Facebook posted a response Friday, arguing the story "couldn't be further from the truth."
"What the Times refers to as a gathering 'over breakfast' among 'young engineers and lawyers' is, in fact, a global forum held every two weeks where we discuss potential changes to our policies. It includes experts from around the world with deep knowledge of relevant laws, online safety, counter-terrorism, operations, public policy, communications, product, and diversity. Yes, lawyers and engineers are present, but so are human rights experts, people who have studied hate and extremist organizations, former law enforcement and other public servants, and academics," Facebook added in part.