Facebook is affirming its reputation as a discriminatory censor-happy machine this week, banning a noted gay director and playwright for simply posting a text-only status update that celebrated same-sex marriage.
Facebook has a long history of banning users for seemingly innocent photos — in January 2013, it was a photo of a gay interracial couple; in October, it was a photo of two men kissing; this January, it was another “offensive” photo of two men kissing; just this week, it was a photo of soccer stars Ivan Rakitic and Daniel Carrico sharing an on-field kiss, a widely reported celebratory moment in the wake of their first-place victory at the UEFA Europa League. The current topic is unique in the sense that it’s the first text-only post banned for simply being gay-related. There was no photo attached.
The post in question was written last week in celebration of marriage equality in Pennsylvania. It referenced an episode of Queer as Folk, which Shores wrote and produced:
“AN EMOTIONAL MOMENT FOR ME TODAY!
I’m not sure that all of you know that I wrote for and was one of the producers of Queer as Folk for the last three seasons. Today, a fan pointed out that Debbie can now marry Carl! Why? Because in one episode of QAF – when Carl asked Debbie to marry him, she said she would not until gay marriage was legal in Pennsylvania. How amazing! I wrote the writers: ‘Debbie and Carl can get married!’ — and my good friend Michael MacLennan wrote me this: ‘And what a heady time. In those Dark Days of Bush (and not the positive and life-affirming variety) we’d have never imagined that less than ten years later, such progress as this would be happening.’ I teared up. It’s an amazing time in history! Love you all!”
After posting, Facebook sent Shores a message (below) informing him that his account would be suspended from posting for 30 days because his celebratory message violated the Facebook Community Standards:
As we’ve previously reported, gay-related Facebook bannings are most likely the work of robots that institute bans based on user complaints and no human oversight. This has obviously become a serious issue at Facebook, as it often places the power of censorship in the hands of homophobes.
“I cannot believe that Facebook is homophobic,” Shores tells Global News. “The particular offending post was attacked by a few religious bigots, one who railed on the gay community by quoting scripture after scripture. Many fans commented back, and I ultimately banned and blocked him, deleting his hateful comments in the name of the Lord. But apparently not before he and his trolls reported my page.”
Shores has reportedly appealed the decision three times with the following message to Facebook:
Please tell me what in my post that you removed, then suspended me from posting for thirty days, does not “follow Facebook Community Standards”.
First and foremost, I LOVE FACEBOOK. It is an amazing way to connect to my fans. I buy ads for my shows daily and have a very active page. Thank you Facebook for my page. I mean that sincerely. I love connecting with friends and fans. Even while suspended, my ads are still running, and I am gladly paying for them.
In that, there is a flaw in your system. The particular offending post was attacked by a few religious bigots, one who railed on the gay community by quoting scripture after scripture. Many fans commented back, and I ultimately banned and blocked him, deleting his hateful comments in the name of the Lord. But apparently not before he and his trolls reported my page.
It seems to me, since this is the third time this has happened to me (and all “offending” posts or pictures were not offensive in any way AND you never would respond to my complaints or reverse the suspensions) that whomever is in charge of suspending does not look at the “offending” posts or pictures. They simply trust those reporting.
I cannot believe that Facebook is homophobic. Otherwise, many of us would be gone long ago. Although with the recent press of you suspending an Italian woman for posting a pro-gay rights picture of two women kissing citing “she had violated FB rules on ‘nudity and pornography’”, along with you removing my post — you are getting that reputation. [Includes line to Metro.]
Yes, I can still post via my administrators. BUT, it is a hassle. And this suspension is simply wrong!
Please do the right thing!
Facebook, per usual, has not responded.
Update: After 48 hours since his initial complaint, Facebook has lifted the suspension on the Del Shores page. Facebook provided no further comment or explanation.