Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Wednesday 23 June |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Ioan Suciu
home iconNews
line break icon

Mark Zuckerberg apologizes for censoring Catholic content

J-P Mauro - published on 04/17/18 - updated on 04/17/18

The CEO of Facebook claimed the "mistake" was not made because of bias at the social network.

During his 2-day congressional hearing, Mark Zuckerberg was subject to questioning about Facebook’s recent censorship of a Catholic advertisement. When the topic was brought up by Washington state Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Zuckerberg apologized to the panel, claiming the company had “made a mistake” in blocking the advertisement. He went on to emphasize the large number of advertisements which Facebook must review daily, stating, “I wouldn’t extrapolate from a few examples to assume that the overall system is biased.”

The ad in question was for a Catholic theology degree by Franciscan University of Steubenville, featuring an image of The San Damiano Cross, a 12th-century cross most commonly associated with the school’s patron, Saint Francis.

The censorship was brought to public attention by Tom Crowe, web communications director for Franciscan University of Steubenville, who alerted news sources  after Facebook responded to the ad, claiming the content fell into the category of, “shocking, sensational, or excessively violent content.”

The congressional panel continued to press Zuckerberg for comments on possible bias from the social media network, claiming that Facebook had blocked more than two dozen Catholic pages, as well as some conservative content, “after determining their content and brand were, quote, ‘unsafe to the community.’”

In response, Zuckerberg reiterated that, “Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place,” but added that he is committed to “making sure that we do not have any bias.”

Before the congressional hearing, Crowe was contacted by a Facebook spokesperson who apologized for the inconvenience, and explained, “sometimes we make mistakes.” The spokesperson also informed Crowe that the advertisement had been approved.

While it was never explained to Crowe how the mistake was made, the experience did lead him to muse about our culture’s current view of the Cross:

“The San Damiano Cross. Jesus in glory, reigning from his cruciform throne. This is what the monitors at Facebook consider excessively violent, sensational, and shocking,” he wrote in an article on the university’s website, titled “He was Rejected.” “And indeed, the Crucifixion of Christ was all of those things. It was the most sensational action in history: man executed his God.” “It was not the nails that held Jesus to the cross: he was God, he could have descended from the Cross at any moment,” said Crowe, quoting Catholic author Fr. Mike Schmitz. “No, it was love that kept him there. Love for you and for me, that we might not be eternally condemned for our sins but might have life eternal with him and his Father in heaven.”
CatholicSocial Media
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Zelda Caldwell
Catholic priest’s chapel is finalist in “Shed of the Year&#...
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
Zoe Romanowsky
Animated film shows the power of fatherhood in just one minute
Philip Kosloski
Can Catholics use the Enneagram personality system?
Theresa Civantos Barber
5 Thoughtful ways to honor a priest this Father’s Day
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.