Evangelist Franklin Graham claims Facebook ‘is censoring free speech’ after it blocked him

By Michael Brice-Saddler | The Washington Post

Franklin Graham, the son of the evangelist Billy Graham and a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, said Sunday that he accepts “Facebook’s apology” after the platform blocked him for 24 hours last week.

On Friday, Graham wrote on Facebook that his account had been temporarily blocked over a 2016 post about North Carolina’s House Bill 2, more commonly known as the “bathroom bill.” According to Graham, Facebook said the post went against its “community standards on hate speech.”

Those responsible for blocking his account were trying to police his speech, he said.

“Facebook is trying to define the truth,” Graham wrote. He added, “Actually, Facebook is censoring free speech. The free exchange of ideas is part of our country’s DNA.”

In a statement provided Sunday, Facebook spokeswoman Sarah Pollack acknowledged that the 24-hour block was made after the platform had removed the post for “violating (its) hate speech policies.”

“Upon re-reviewing this content, we identified that the post does not violate our hate speech policy and has been restored,” Pollack said.

The Charlotte Observer reports that a member of Facebook’s content review team had decided – mistakenly – that Graham’s post violated a policy that prohibits “dehumanizing language” and excluding people on sexual orientation, race and other factors.

The 2016 post in question, which Graham republished to his page Friday, asserted that House Bill 2 protected “the safety and privacy of women and children.” The controversial 2016 bill required people to use public restrooms that matched the sex on their birth certificate instead of the gender they identified with – particularly affecting the transgender community.

The law was repealed in 2017 but was replaced by a bill that prevented local governments from passing measures that protect LGBT people – considered to be a compromise.

The post specifically targeted Bruce Springsteen, who canceled a concert in protest of the bathroom bill. Numerous events and business expansions were nixed because of the bill, potentially costing the state billions of dollars by 2028, according an assessment by the Associated Press last year.

Here’s the full text of Graham’s 2016 post:

“Bruce Springsteen, a long-time gay rights activist, has cancelled his North Carolina concert. 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.’ Well, to be honest, we need to go back! Back to God. Back to respecting and honoring His commands. Back to common sense. Mr. Springsteen, a nation embracing sin and bowing at the feet of godless secularism and political correctness is not progress. I’m thankful North Carolina has a governor, Pat McCrory, and a lieutenant governor, Dan Forest, and legislators who put the safety of our women and children first! HB2 protects the safety and privacy of women and children and preserves the human rights of millions of faith-based citizens of this state.”

On “Fox & Friends” on Sunday, Rachel Campos-Duffy asked Graham whether Christians should boycott Facebook.

“First, I accept Facebook’s apology and I appreciate them stepping up and doing that,” said Graham, who has led the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in recent years. “But I think we, as Christians, we don’t back down and we don’t change who we are and what we say and what we do.”

Graham also expressed concern that someone went back to his post from two years ago and decided to take action.

“I’m certainly against hate speech, I’m certainly against people using Facebook to incite violence against somebody, but just having a different opinion other than somebody at Facebook and then to be labeled as hate speech, that’s sad,” Graham said Sunday.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/12/31/after-being-blocked-evangelist-franklin-graham-claims-facebook-is-censoring-free-speech/amp/

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