Face­book re­moves gospel video

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - TECH - BEN SISARIO

FACE­BOOK’S re­cent crack­down on ad­ver­tis­ing it con­sid­ers po­lit­i­cal has al­ready af­fected news pub­lish­ers and small busi­nesses such as hair sa­lons and day-care cen­tres.

Now a gospel mu­sic group can be added to the list.

Last month, Zion’s Joy!, a vo­cal en­sem­ble from Indianapolis, in the US, posted a video to its Face­book page for a new song What Would Heaven Look Like. The video opens with images of strife and protests – in­clud­ing scenes of demon­stra­tors in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia – as the group sings lines in­clud­ing, “I know it might feel like this trou­ble will stay, but this world will soon fade away.”

“We want to touch peo­ple’s hearts and let peo­ple know we can do bet­ter than the world is do­ing right now,” the group’s founder Robert Stevenson said.

Af­ter a week, Zion’s Joy! de­cided to pro­mote the video by pay­ing Face­book for a “boost”. That’s when the so­cial me­dia gi­ant’s al­go­rithm flagged What Would Heaven Look Like as “po­lit­i­cal con­tent” and blocked the video, Stevenson said.

A Face­book spokes­woman said on Thurs­day its po­lit­i­cal ad pol­icy was “new, broad and ex­ists to pre­vent elec­tion in­ter­fer­ence, so we’re ask­ing peo­ple with con­tent that falls un­der those rules to sim­ply get au­tho­rised and show who paid for the ad, in order for it to run”.

“Separately, we made an er­ror by delet­ing the orig­i­nal post. As soon as we iden­ti­fied what hap­pened, we re­stored the post since it does not vi­o­late our Com­mu­nity Stan­dards and have apol­o­gised to Zion’s Joy,” Face­book said.

The re­moval of the video is only the lat­est ex­am­ple of how Face­book’s rules for iden­ti­fy­ing po­lit­i­cal con­tent – tight­ened in the wake of po­lit­i­cal pres­sure over the com­pany’s role in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial poll – have la­belled var­i­ous forms of con­tent as po­lit­i­cal, stir­ring ob­jec­tions from users and pub­lish­ers.

Un­der Face­book’s new rules, all “elec­tion-re­lated and is­sue ads” – in­clud­ing posts that are pro­moted through paid boosts – must con­tain a dis­clo­sure about who paid for them, and the ads will be col­lected into a search­able ar­chive.

The first 30 sec­onds of the video for What Would Heaven Look Like in­clude pro­test­ers wav­ing the Amer­i­can flag and be­ing car­ried away on stretch­ers. There is also an im­age of a demon­stra­tor stand­ing out­side a build­ing bear­ing a Trump logo, hold­ing a sign crit­i­cal of the Dakota Ac­cess Pipe­line.

The rest of the video, for the most part, shows the group’s singers lip-sync­ing in a record­ing stu­dio and on a rooftop.

Be­cause it in­cluded spe­cific, recog­nis­able protests, the video counted as en­gag­ing with “is­sues of pub­lic im­por­tance”, which led to its be­ing flagged as po­lit­i­cal.

Stevenson said the group had been care­ful to re­move any ex­plicit slo­ga­neer­ing. “We wanted to make sure it wasn’t lean­ing one way or the other,” he said. – New York Times


The LG-G7-ThinQ could be ac­cused of copy­ing both Ap­ple and Sam­sung when it comes to looks.


Face­book has be­come tough about po­lit­i­cal con­tent re­cently.

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