On Tuesday, the Catholic News Agency reported that Facebook inexplicably blocked 25 Catholic pages with millions of followers and has yet to give a satisfactory reason why.
Mary Rezac reported:
Of the known affected pages, 21 are based in Brazil, and four are English-language pages, with administrators in the U.S. and Africa. Most of the blocked pages had significant followings - between hundreds of thousands and up to 6 million followers each.
One of the blocked English-language fanpages was “Jesus and Mary”, which had 1.7 million followers. The page’s main cover photo was of the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Page administrator Godwin Delali Adadzie, a Ghanaian, told CNA he was on Facebook around 8 p.m. Central July 17 when he was asked to upload a photo of himself because his personal account had been “suspected of suspicious activities,” he said.
After several minutes, he was allowed back into his personal account, which had notifications informing him that his “Jesus and Mary” page had been disabled. He said every person who was approved as an editor on his page had to go through the same process.
Adadzie said he reviewed Facebook's policies "and, honestly, I do not see any that I have violated in order for my page to be withdrawn."
He has sent two appeals to Facebook but has yet to get a response.
“Catholic and Proud” was another page blocked from its 6 million followers and page administrators were given no explanation. Appeals have been sent and again, no response.
On Wednesday, ChurchPOP reported that a Facebook rep sent an apology to the Brazilian Bishops Conference about the bans. Here is the official explanation:
“The pages were restored. The incident was accidentally caused by a spam detection mechanism on the platform. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”
With CEO Mark Zuckerberg turning Facebook into the thought police by alerting users to what it considers fake news or “offensive” content, the official reason is not sitting well. ChurchPOP states:
ChurchPOP identified dozens of major Catholic pages across three languages that were simultaneously affected (many more than we initially reported). If it was a random glitch, we would have seen possibly thousands of pages affected, most of which would have been non-Catholic. And yet, so far we’re only aware of Catholic pages that were affected.
This is entirely speculation, but we think two other explanations are more plausible:
One possibility is that some anti-Catholic group coordinated reporting the affected pages as spam, and something about that triggered an automatic action on Facebook. Or, after being reported, an anti-Catholic Facebook employee charged with reviewing spam reports decided to take it as an opportunity ban the pages.
Another possibility is simply that a rogue employee who doesn’t like the Catholic Church used their power to ban the pages, and when Facebook found out about it they reversed it.
The only "suspicious activity" is coming from Facebook.