Face­book apol­o­gizes for ban­ning evan­ge­list Franklin Gra­ham for 24 hours

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY JOE MARUSAK [email protected]­lot­teob­server.com Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

Face­book is apol­o­giz­ing to evan­ge­list Franklin Gra­ham for ban­ning him from post­ing on the site for 24 hours last week, a Face­book spokesper­son told The Char­lotte Ob­server on Satur­day.

It was a mis­take to ban Gra­ham over a 2016 post he made on the site, and a mis­take to have taken down the post, the spokesper­son said.

Face­book has re­stored the 2016 post and will apol­o­gize in a note to the ad­min­is­tra­tor of Gra­ham’s Face­book page, ac­cord­ing to the Face­book spokesper­son, who agreed to speak only on back­ground, mean­ing with­out the spokesper­son’s name.

A mem­ber of Face­book’s con­tent re­view team — the team has 15,000 mem­bers — had mis­tak­enly de­cided the post vi­o­lated Face­book’s pol­icy that bans “de­hu­man­iz­ing lan­guage” and ex­clud­ing peo­ple based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, race and other fac­tors, ac­cord­ing to the spokesper­son and Face­book’s writ­ten pol­icy.

“Why?” Gra­ham asked in a Face­book post on Fri­day after he said he was banned from post­ing any­thing on the site for 24 hours last week. “Be­cause of a post from back in 2016 about North Carolina’s House Bill 2 (the bath­room bill). Face­book said the post went against their ‘com­mu­nity stan­dards on hate speech.’ Face­book is try­ing to de­fine truth.”

In his post, Gra­ham said the so­cial me­dia giant is “mak­ing the rules and chang­ing the rules. Truth is truth. God made the rules and His Word is truth. Ac­tu­ally, Face­book is cen­sor­ing free speech. The free ex­change of ideas is part of our coun­try’s DNA.”

Gra­ham’s Fri­day post in­cluded his 2016 post that he said Face­book “took down” last week. “Do you see any hate speech here?” Gra­ham asked.

Gra­ham’s 2016 post fo­cused on singer-song­writer Bruce Spring­steen can­cel­ing a North Carolina con­cert be­cause of House Bill 2.

“He says the NC law #HB2 to pre­vent men from be­ing able to use women’s re­strooms and locker rooms is go­ing ‘back­wards in­stead of for­wards,’” Gra­ham said in his 2016 post, re­fer­ring to Spring­steen. “Well, to be hon­est, we need to go back! Back to God. Back to re­spect­ing and hon­or­ing His com­mands.”

In March 2016, the Gen­eral As­sem­bly passed HB2, also known as the “bath­room bill.” HB2 re­versed a Char­lotte or­di­nance that ex­tended some rights to peo­ple who are gay or transgender, The Char­lotte Ob­server re­ported at the time. Then-Gov. Pat Mc­Crory signed the mea­sure into law the same night.

Char­lotte’s or­di­nance pro­tected transgender peo­ple us­ing pub­lic re­strooms based on their gen­der iden­tity, the Ob­server re­ported. The 2016 NC law also elim­i­nated lo­cal or­di­nances statewide that ex­panded pro­tec­tions for les­bians and gays and bi­sex­ual and transgender per­sons.

A year later, the Gen­eral As­sem­bly passed a com­pro­mise bill re­peal­ing House Bill 2 but re­strict­ing anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion or­di­nances across the state. Gov. Roy Cooper signed the bill into law.

Gra­ham’s post Fri­day drew a com­bined 75,000 likes and “an­gry-face” and “wow” emo­jis by Satur­day af­ter­noon, along with nearly 38,500 shares and 8,400 com­ments. The re­sponse was over­whelm­ingly in Gra­ham’s fa­vor; the Ob­server searched nearly a thou­sand of the com­ments by Satur­day af­ter­noon and found none op­posed to his re­marks.

“Face­book has no busi­ness wor­ry­ing about re­li­gious con­vic­tions,” Bon­nie Re­ichert posted in a typ­i­cal com­ment on Gra­ham’s page.

“Face­book has no right ban­ning any­thing,” posted Ke­nan Lott. “If they keep it up some­one will start a new bet­ter ver­sion for the peo­ple.”

MAX FAULKNER [email protected]­gram.com

Evan­ge­list Franklin Gra­ham got an apol­ogy from Face­book for a 24-hour ban over a 2016 post about Bruce Spring­steen’s op­po­si­tion to HB2.

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