Facebook And “Community Standards.”

A quote from St. Augustine of Hippo, a Catholic theologian and philosopher from the 5th century, has earned the ire of Facebook censors because it did not meet “community standards.”

The quote was posted by Massachusetts pro-lifer Dominic Bettinelli, who saw that two priests had been censored by Facebook for displaying the quote on their Facebook walls. After seeing the priests being told the quote was contrary to “community standards,” Bettinelli decided to “test the Facebook waters” and posted the quote where it was removed by Facebook.

What words could be so evil and offensive that they needed to be removed?

Here’s the quote:

Let us never assume that if we live good lives we will be without sin; our lives should be praised only when we continue to beg for pardon. But men are hopeless creatures, and the less they concentrate on their own sins, the more interested they become in the sins of others. They seek to criticize, not to correct. Unable to excuse themselves, they are ready to accuse others.

St. Augustine seems to have been echoing the words of Christ from Matthew 7:3:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
Matthew 7:3 NIV

Clearly a horrible sentiment. (/sarc)

At first Bettinelli thought that the quote had been wrongfully caught in the Facebook computer speech algorithms, but when he appealed, a Facebook employee came to the same decision that the quote violated “community standards.”

Apparently it is against Facebook policy to say that people in general should not be hypocrites.

Bettinelli says a friend of his put part of the St. Augustine quote and that was taken down as well. The man had posted “men are hopeless creatures” and that drew the ire of Facebook.

If you ask us why that offends “community standards,” we have no idea.

Facebook is a private company and can do what it wants when it comes to speech. They can ban or censor whomever and whatever they want.

The problem is, of course, that Facebook says it wants to be a public place where people can exchange events, thoughts and ideas but strangles and censors ideas – even innocuous comments about hypocrisy and a call for people to be better.

People will claim that social media sites like Facebook should censor speech that offends. We would disagree to a large extent, but we understand the reasoning.

But what happens when the platform censors thoughts and ideas that some small group of people don’t like?

What happens when the censor becomes oppressive?

What happens when the censor demands that you think like they do?

Comments are closed.