Facebook’s notorious censorship — which has included takedowns of iconic images like the Vietnam War’s ‘Napalm Girl’ to the arrest of Rosa Parks to a photograph of a classical statue of Venus — reached a whole other level of absurd recently, when the platform suspended God’s account.
God, a religious satire profile, had the nerve to write a post critical of spending priorities of the bellicose United States, stating:
Stop making your military so damn huge and give people medicine and education because you’re sick and stupid.
Apparently, according to writer Dan Arel, Americans were none-too happy with the critique — the post received such a massive, vitriolic response, algorithms automatically banned God for 30 days.
“FB banned Me for 30 days for having an opinion on military spending,” he attempted to explain to followers in a post.
But the “The Good Lord Above” had already lost posting privileges — everywhere on Facebook.
Although the account frequently draws the ire of Facebook users who either view the profile as blasphemous to their religion or disparaging of their country — God often criticizes American imperialism — the suspension over what amounts to an uncomfortable truth speaks to increasingly oppressive censorship.
“I posted this opinion on the day it was announced that Obamacare will be defunded and 24 million people will lose their healthcare,” said the verified account holder, who wished only to be known as ‘God.’ “The opinion goes viral, gaining over 100,000 likes and 15,000 shares. A few hundred people disagree with the opinion. Rather than move on, or even use the ‘angry’ reaction face, what do they do? They report the opinion as being offensive.”
Facebook’s attempts to pacify the perpetually-offended under the pretense of combating hate speech have, indeed, spawned the contempt of free speech advocates as a perilous foray into censorship of dissenting or unpleasant opinion.
Noticeably laden with irony, the suspension of God’s profile over a simple criticism evinces a factious pattern by the social media behemoth of censoring anything deemed ‘offensive’ by a minority of users.
Although the account tends toward the satirical, God has been known to cast aspersions against political policies he feels untenable to the poor and underprivileged — perhaps exactly as would be expected from a religious ‘being.’
“This is not the first 30-day ban I’ve ever gotten so unjustly,” God noted, adding he finds fault with President-elect Donald Trump’s intention to defund Obamacare. “Obviously, it’s a machine algorithm. Obviously, my opinions are not for everyone. But I have just as much a right to speak My Mind as Orange Hitler does.”
That, of course, speaks to the politically-charged atmosphere currently gripping America and further widening what already appears to be an insurmountable cleft between supporters of the incoming administration and, well, various factions opposed.
“The same people who love that Trump speaks his mind on Twitter are the same people who freaked out about the Tweet I posted and reported it as offensive,” God keenly observed.
Unfortunately, those most vociferously in disagreement have used Facebook’s growing number of report options to censor their opposition — but that isn’t the only issue. Obtuse algorithms — what God suspects responsible for his ban — have automatically removed posts not at all in violation of the platform’s Terms of Service or Community Standards.
Facebook’s algorithms have even banned the Conservative prime minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, who posted the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph by Nick Ut of naked Kim Phuc running from a napalm attack on a Buddhist monastery during the Vietnam War — an image widely credited with fomenting opposition to American involvement in the conflict.
Facebook has also removed the iconic image of Rosa Parks being fingerprinted after being arrested for refusing to move to the back of a bus during the Civil Rights movement.
More recently, the platform’s ignominious algorithms censored a photograph of the 16th-century statue of Neptune in the Italian city of Bologna’s Piazza del Nettuno.
However, the removal of those images and bans of those who dared post the photographs — performed variously by algorithms and human content curators — denote a slightly different issue than that faced by the satirical deity.
God seems to have been banned after perhaps a few hundred users took offense to the criticism of U.S. spending and flooded Facebook with reports — triggering the automatic suspension.
That portends the heavy-handed suppression will only continue, much to the consternation of those who champion the statement most often attributed to Voltaire, which reads:
“I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
For God, the ban over criticizing the government’s priorities is exasperating and all-too-telling of larger issues. As he put it,
“Humans are sick and stupid and they make God go crazy.”
[UPDATE] It now appears Facebook has come to its senses — since the publication of this article, ‘God’ had his ban lifted and has begun posting once again.