The Wrath Of Facebook: ‘God’ Smote With 30-Day Ban For Criticizing US Military Spending

The Wrath Of Facebook: ‘God’ Smote With 30-Day Ban For Criticizing US Military Spending

Facebook’s moderation system, which combines an automated flagging system with limited human oversight, has once again drawn criticism, this time for banning a satirical account which criticized U.S. military spending.(AP/Czarek Sokolowski)

MINNEAPOLIS — The word of “God” caused a stir on Facebook when a popular Facebook page attributed to the Judeo-Christian deity was blocked from criticizing U.S. military spending.

The satirical postings on the Facebook page of “God” have amassed a loyal following. The Facebook page has 3.25 million “Likes,” and a related Twitter account, @TheGoodGodAbove, has 196,000 followers. The page’s unknown creator frequently uses the guise of God to express humorous, progressive, and human-rights oriented messages.

However, some Facebook users were upset by a Jan. 4 post suggesting that U.S. military funds might be better spent elsewhere. The post read:

Dear Americans,

Stop making your military so damn huge and give people medicine and education because you’re sick and stupid.

Thanks,
God.”

The same message was shared without incident on Twitter, but enough Facebook users flagged the post as a violation of Facebook’s Community Standards that it was removed from the platform and the owner of the account was issued a warning.

When the owner of the “God” page tried to post about the incident on Facebook, they found that they’d been banned from posting on that page and their personal page for 30 days, according to Adam Albright-Hanna, director of audience engagement at Good.

The anonymous humorist behind God’s tweets and Facebook posts told Albright-Hanna that their posts have run afoul of Facebook’s automated moderation system before:

“This is not the first 30-day ban I’ve ever gotten so unjustly. Obviously, it’s a machine algorithm. Obviously, my opinions are not for everyone. But I have just a much a right to speak My Mind as Orange Hitler does.”

It appears that the social media outcry and news coverage of the incident may have prompted Facebook to reconsider the ban, as posts have continued to appear on the Facebook page. A Jan. 8 tweet also appears to be a response to the controversy, restating “God”’s previous request in more direct language:

“God” also blamed supporters of President-elect Donald Trump for reporting the Facebook post and getting it deleted. “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” said in the interview with Albright-Hanna.

Facebook’s moderation system, which combines an automated flagging system with limited human oversight, has frequently drawn criticism. In September, the famed image of a burned young girl fleeing naked from a napalm attack in Vietnam was removed from Facebook as a violation of the site’s content policy.

Some activists have criticized Facebook moderation for being vulnerable to manipulation by white supremacists and other extremist groups. In December, anti-racism activist Leslie Mac was temporarily banned from posting on Facebook after a status update asking white people to speak out against racism was reported as racist language.

On Dec. 22, Mac told TechCrunch that she didn’t think she’d been personally targeted by Facebook or its staff.

“But what their systems allow is people to attack people of color with no recourse and to take those people’s opinions as fact,” she added.

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