Facebook removes gospel video
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.