Facebook Apologizes for Banning LGBT Activist
Officials from Facebook apologized to the founder of a popular pro-gay marriage Facebook page this week after the social media website blocked him for posting a photograph of a same-sex couple that some found "offensive," the British newspaper the Guardian reports.
Murray Lipp, who runs the Gay Marriage USA Facebook page, received a notification about a picture of a gay couple he had posted. The photo showed a bishop marrying his partner at a Pentecostal Church. According to Facebook, a number of users complained and left negative comments.
"I am just in disgust with their lifestyle. It's disgusting and completely vile," one person wrote, according to the Guardian. "Someone please explain to me how it is acceptable when man and man/woman or woman cannot conceive children? It is our purpose in life to conceive children," another wrote. The Guardian noted other postings that quoted from the Bible and users who vowed to have Lipp's page shut down.
The social media website's administrators wrote Lipp that he would no longer have access to, or posting on, the Gay Marriage USA page, which has nearly 300,000 followers. The administrators argued that he broke Facebook's "policies and community standards."
Lipp admits he received several similar notifications from Facebook in the past after users complained over the page's pro-gay content. "Not once has Facebook ever contacted me to give me an opportunity to respond," he told the Guardian. "It simply blocks me each time and each time the block is for a longer period of time. It's totally unjust that I should be punished for someone else's homophobia."
Once the Guardian notified Facebook, officials reactivated the page and apologized to Lip.
"The content of the photograph in question did not violate our terms, however it was removed in error," a spokesman for Facebook said. "Normally these comments are reviewed separately and removed where appropriate. In this instance the photograph itself was mistakenly taken down, despite there being nothing in the picture that breaks our rules. We apologize for the error."
A source told the Guardian that Facebook is bombarded by complaints about content every day, so it's inevitable that once in awhile it makes mistakes.
Staff members from British gay news site PinkNews found themselves in a similar situation after Facebook deleted content off its page for using the word "faggot" while reporting a story. Officials later apologized and reinstated the page.
Chris Hughes, the openly gay co-founder Facebook and a college roommate with Mark Zuckerberg, recently got engaged to boyfriend Sean Eldridge, the political director of Freedom to Marry. With a combined net worth estimated at $500 million, the couple, still in their twenties, have become the leaders of a new generation of LGBT philanthropists-activists.
Another early Facebook personality, Peter Thiel, is also gay and out. Thiel, the first outside investor in Facebook, reportedly has a net worth of $1.5 billion. He is involved in right-wing and libertarian groups like GOProud and renegade videographer James O'Keefe, who helped bring down ACORN.