The administrator of a fast growing Facebook page supporting Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson, which attracted more than half a million supporters in less than 24 hours on Thursday, says Facebook banned him from accessing the page for eight hours then told him it was an "accident."
Former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee, who faced similar roadblocks in his efforts to support Robertson, however, has accused the social network of censorship.
In an interview with WDAY Radio Thursday, the creator of the Facebook page Boycott A&E until Phil Robertson is put back on Duck Dynasty, college student Michael Ratto said he created the page at 6 p.m. Wednesday and was surprised when he woke up the next morning to see that he was locked out of his account.
"Last night, you know it's finals week, I'm a college student, I go to bed I wake up in the morning find out my account's shut down. So there's a pop-up on my screen when I try to log in and they marked it as the reason they banned me was because of a comment I made. And the comment was basically saying, 'nearly 4,500 likes in one hour, amazing everyone please keep sharing,'" said Michael.
He explained that Facebook later sent an email to his friend, Wayne, of the Wayne Dupree Show, saying it was an accident. That email, he explained, never came until after a news story about their problems with the Facebook account made national news.
"Wayne emailed me and let me know that a woman emailed him, that supposedly works with Facebook, and she said that it was an accident, so I do have my admin control back and I can post and like, but it was basically out for eight hours," said Michael. As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the Facebook page had attracted more than 650,000 likes.
Huckabee, who has already gathered more than 70,000 people willing to support his Stand with Phil And Support Free Speech event scheduled to take place on Monday, Dec. 23, said Facebook also blocked him from accessing the page and he did not call it an accident. Instead, he cried censorship by the social network.
"Phil Robertson of 'Duck Dynasty' isn't the only one censored by the media thought police. When we put up an event page to show support for our pal Phil, FB blocked access to the page! What is happening to free speech for Christians? Have you seen the stuff FB allows when people attack me because of my faith? I allow the attacks on me on my own page. But when we try to show support for a Christian brother FB pulls the entire page! It's time to demand that 'tolerance' includes tolerance for Christians too!" said Huckabee on his Facebook page Thursday.
He later followed up that post with another which said: "Just in case you were wondering, the ability to INVITE People to the 'STAND WITH PHIL and SUPPORT FREE SPEECH' is still shut off by FB. Of course you can still go to the event page and say you are attending. But for now and until FB decides not to shut us up, send everyone you know to www.isupportfreespeech.com. Show FB that just because they want to stifle free speech you still believe in the RIGHT of FREE SPEECH for ALL."
The Christian Post reached out via e-mail to Facebook on Thursday regarding Huckabee's censorship allegation and the company responded with a generic e-mail.
"Thanks for contacting Facebook. We understand that you may be on deadline and will do our best to respond as quickly as possible," noted the response. The response was still pending at the time this report was published.