BY JULIA MARNIN, Syndicated from Newsweek
- Billions of users rely on Facebook as a means for online connection to chat freely with friends and family.
- Private technology companies like Facebook hold a lot of power, which was demonstrated in their recent decision to join other platforms such as Twitter in banning former President Donald Trump.
- After that decision, differing online opinions have emerged regarding censorship alongside fears that religious content is being banned on Facebook.
British YouTuber and writer Paul Joseph Watson posted a video titled Facebook bans Bible passages to YouTube on Monday that has been viewed almost 50,000 times. In the video, he claims that a recent Facebook post was censored and banned when a user tried to share two links to Biblehub.com and an excerpt of a Bible passage.
Watson shows a screenshot of the user receiving a “Your post couldn’t be shared, because this link goes against our Community Standards” message from Facebook for the post in his video at the 1:19 minute mark.
Watson repeated his claim on several social platforms such as Twitter, where he wrote “Facebook was the main platform for planning the Capitol riot, but at least it’s cracking down on Bible posts,” and shared the image of a Facebook user allegedly being censored with over thousands of likes and retweets.
A Facebook user made a similar assertion, saying “FB banning biblical content .. what next?” with a screenshot of him attempting to post a link to Biblehub.com and receiving a “Your post couldn’t be shared, because this link goes against our Community Standards.”
Facebook is no stranger to being accused of censoring and banning religious content.
In response to the allegations that it censors and bans Bible passages, a Facebook spokesperson told Newsweek, “That is not accurate. This has been debunked several times in the past.”
When Newsweek asked Facebook if it specifically banned posts with links from Biblehub.com, the company said it was looking into the matter.
Biblehub.com is an online Bible study site with passages available in multiple languages. On the site, it states, “This site is a great way to link any verse on your site to an instant menu of 25 versions!”
The title of Watson’s video asserts that all Bible passages are banned by Facebook, but he later states in the video that the exact reason as to why the user’s post was banned is unknown.
“It could be that the Bible passage is in question or that the text associated with this post because it had the word ‘blood’ in it which again is another paraphrase from a Bible quote, or it could be that the website ‘Biblehub’ is censored, banned, blocked on Facebook,” Watson said in his widely seen and shared clip.
After Facebook looked into the matter, it confirmed to Newsweek on Wednesday night that links to Biblehub.com were banned.
“The Web site BibleHub.com links were flagged as low-quality content in error, which can restrict sharing capabilities,” the Facebook spokesperson said in an email.
Facebook has since fixed the issue, and links to Biblehub.com can now be shared after Newsweek‘s inquiry, according to Facebook.
“We apologize for this error,” the Facebook spokesperson said.
Watson is deemed as “far right” by multiple online sources and was banned from Facebook and Instagram in May of 2019, according to BuzzFeed News.
The Ruling: Half True.
Watson was wrong about his broad claim, but he was correct about links from Biblehub.com being banned.
Facebook does not censor Bible passages or posts with religious content. However, links to Biblehub.com were banned and prohibited from being posted.
After Newsweek reached out about the issue, Facebook stated it was in error and corrected it.
Links to Biblehub.com can now be shared in Facebook posts. Other posts containing Bible passages appear publicly on Facebook and have not been banned or censored.
Facebook’s community standards do not say anything relating to the restriction of religious content, including Bible passages.