Christian Posts Blocked: Will 'Christian Speech' Be Allowed in the New Facebook World?
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CBN News interviewed president and CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters Dr. Jerry Johnson about allegations of social media censorship of Christian and conservative content. WATCH ABOVE.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is on Capitol Hill this week responding to questions about the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the data of 87 million users was gathered to build a psychological profile for political gain.
A group of broadcasters wants Congress to ask the billionaire about allegations Facebook routinely blocks images and content with a conservative message.
"What we're raising awareness of is that really across the board - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, GoFundMe, Apple, the App Store - you've got really the censorship of Christian content and conservative content across the board," Dr. Jerry Johnson, president and CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters, told CBN News.
"We think Mr. Zuckerberg really should answer questions about that," he continued.
A Facebook spokesperson responded to a request by CBN News to address Johnson's concerns over censorship. CBN News was told Facebook does not have policies against religious or political views but is a platform for community and fostering conversations that are diverse - and welcomes ideas of all kinds.
The only exceptions according to the spokesperson would be in relation to bullying, harassment, criminal threats or activities and the selling of regulated goods.
The site's Community Standards website states, "Our mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together... The conversations that happen on Facebook reflect the diversity of a community of more than two billion people."
It goes on to say, "We want people to feel safe when using Facebook. For that reason, we've developed a set of Community Standards."
It outlines them with the topics of safety, respectful behavior and keeping your account secure.
In a 2017 message, Zuckerberg told users he was committed to building a platform that will “bring humanity together” to reframe the world into a better place.
“In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us,” he said.
But critics say there's evidence that conflicts with that claim, and they want to ask Mr. Zuckerberg if his new global community includes them.
The National Religious Broadcasters points to several instances in which Christian themes were deleted or banned. In one recent instance, a Catholic university put up a picture of a cross to commemorate Easter. Facebook rejected the ad because it did not meet its standards.
After a secondary review, the social media giant reversed their initial censorship of the ad. Still, NRB leaders want to know what was so "shocking, sensational, or excessively violent" to cause it to be initially censored.
A Facebook spokesperson answered CBN News' question about this specific case saying, “Our team processes millions of ads each week, and sometimes we make mistakes. This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologize for the error and have already let the advertiser know we approved their ad."
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"Well, let's face it, the values of Silicon Valley are not conservative values; they're not Christian values," Johnson told CBN News. "Everybody's talking about the data breach and Cambridge Analytica, and the point was that they were using your information to send you messages to affect the political campaign."
"So it was about messages being sent to affect a political outcome," he continued. "But actually this is the other side of the question, which is content taken away - that is, conservative content and Christian content on Facebook may be sent to you by friends or news organizations you trust."
"Those things are being kept from you in the heat of a political campaign or just in the national debate of the day, whatever it might be about," Johnson said.
"Silicon Valley does not want conservative talk and Christian talk; they want to push progressive and Leftist values. It's just the fact," he added.
Zuckerberg even admitted that's a real issue during his testimony Tuesday when Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, asked him if Facebook had a political bias.
"I understand where that concern is coming from; as Facebook and the tech industry are located in the Silicon Valley, which is an extremely Left-leaning place. And this is actually a concern that I have, that I try to root out in the company, is making sure that we don't have any bias in the work that we do," Zuckerberg answered to Cruz.
Johnson said NRB reached out to Zuckerberg and others to address the alleged violations.
"Well, we have reached out to them with a letter, a formal letter; we haven't gotten a formal response," Johnson explained.
The NRB wants Congress to hold Zuckerberg’s feet to the fire over these allegations of censorship.
They say there are five major questions he should answer, including how the social media juggernaut defines “hate speech” and how they respond to comments by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who acknowledged that some social media platforms “routinely block or discriminate against content they don’t like.”
The NRB is not alone in its concerns with Facebook’s policies on free speech.
Earlier this week, social media personalities Diamond and Silk accused Facebook of blocking their nearly 1.4 million viewers from receiving updates because they were deemed offensive.
Specifically, they say the social media giant labeled their content "unsafe to the community."
CBN News asked Facebook to respond to the concerns by Diamond and Silk and received a statement from the social giant. Read the full story here:
The sisters, who are ardent supporters of President Donald Trump, told Fox News they were appalled by this new classification, saying they are just “two black chicks who are down with politics.”
In December, NRB launched Internet Freedom Watch, a website where Johnson said visitors will find a timeline of alleged social media censorship. He said they can enter their own censorship examples.
"Tell your story - if you feel like your site has been taken down, your post (has) been removed, your tweet has been shadowed or ghosted in some way," he told CBN News. "And we want to have sort of a clearinghouse for all of these examples."
Facebook was the first company to respond to CBN News' questions related to censorship. We also reached out to Twitter, Instagram, Google, GoFundMe and Apple, for the company and its brands. We will update this report as those responses are available.
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