Rev. Franklin Graham fumed against Facebook after the Big Tech giant continued its crackdown against Christian conservatives by banning him from the platform.
Facebook temporarily shut down the page of the son of the legendary Rev. Billy Graham for alleged “hate speech” against transgenders. The ban resulted from a more than two-year-old post in which Graham supported North Carolina’s now-repealed bathroom bill that critics say encouraged bigotry against transgenders. Facebook apologized after taking a second look and reinstating his page.
Franklin called the banning a “personal attack” and warned that his punishment was a sign of things to come for conservatives and Christians who express what they believe on social media.
Graham blasts “personal” censorship attack
In an unusual example of transparency, Facebook came out and admitted an oversight in targeting Graham for political censorship. The company acknowledged over the weekend that it banned Graham for 24 hours last week because of so-called “hate speech.”
Facebook seemingly could not muster someone to own up to the mistake by name, as an anonymous spokesperson instead told the Charlotte Observer that Graham’s account was shuttered over a 2016 post that allegedly used “dehumanizing language.” The post was deleted and Graham’s account was momentarily taken down after one of the company’s 15,000 content moderators flagged Graham’s post.
Facebook reviewed the post again and later decided that it made a mistake, saying that “upon re-reviewing this content, we identified that the post does not violate our hate speech policy and has been restored.” Graham shared the offending post, which discusses Bruce Springsteen and the singer’s boycott of North Carolina’s 2016 HB2 bathroom bill, again and asked his followers to identify what was hateful about it. He wrote:
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.”
Facebook has been regularly accused of censorship by conservatives over the last several months amid a backlash against Big Tech platforms and a lack of transparency in how they regulate content. An employee leaked more than 1,000 pages of documents last week on the company’s process for moderating speech, which remains shrouded in secrecy but appears to be politically motivated against conservatives. Graham blasted Facebook’s “secret rule book” which he said gives short shrift to Christians.
“Facebook has a secret rulebook for policing speech,” Graham wrote in a Facebook post on Friday. “There was a character in a movie a few years back who said, ‘The truth is what I say it is!’ That’s what Facebook is trying to do. They’re 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.”
In 2016, North Carolina passed HB2 and the bill was signed into law by the governor at the time. It overturned an ordinance allowing transgenders to use the bathroom that they mentally identify with using along with other rights for gays and transgenders.
The bill was repealed after backlash from LGBT advocates.
An apology and a warning
Graham accepted an apology from Facebook on Sunday but decried the “personal attack towards me” and did not back down from warning that Christians and conservatives are under attack by Big Tech. Graham, who is president of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said that he is just one high-profile figure that tech companies have targeted for expressing the Christian faith on social media.
“The problem with Facebook [is] if you disagree with their position on sexual orientation then you could be classified as hate speech, or that you’re a racist. This is a problem,” he told Fox & Friends.
“Mark Zuckerberg, when he spoke before Congress [earlier this year], he said, ‘Facebook is a platform for all ideas.’ Well, it’s obvious his staff hasn’t got that memo,” Graham continued. “Facebook’s a private company and they can certainly do what they want. But [Facebook CEO] Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook is a platform for all ideas.”
He explained that while he is also “against hate speech, I’m against people using Facebook to incite violence against someone, that’s terrible.” Graham encouraged his fellow Christians to not back down and keep fighting for the truth.
“As Christians we don’t back down, we don’t change who we are and what we say and what we do,” he said. “I would encourage Facebook and Christians to stand on God’s Word and His truth.”