Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Reporting on the horrific persecution Christian minorities experience in the Muslim word is a “punishable” offense for Facebook, as that topic falls beneath the social media giant’s “standards.”
That’s what I was told when I logged onto my Facebook account a few days ago. A box popped up saying, “This post goes against our Community Standards,” followed by, “Only you can see this post because it goes against our standards,” with a link to the “offensive” post. I was then locked out for 24 hours.
The problematic article in question, which I published online and shared on Facebook back on Feb. 15, 2021—a full eight months ago—is titled “New Film Commemorates 21 Coptic Christian Martyrs.” In it, I discussed how an Arabic-language film was being made about the 21 Egyptian Christians savagely slaughtered by the Islamic State in Libya in 2015.
To be sure, I’m familiar with and a regular recipient of Facebook’s other tactics—especially “shadow banning”: making my posts appear live on my end, though no one or only a few can actually see them. I only know this because I’ve gotten so many messages over the years from Facebook users saying, “How come you haven’t posted anything in months,” even though I upload some 3-4 posts every week. Others regularly message me saying things like, “Facebook has disconnected the ‘Share’ button on the top menu of your page” (from a 10/27/31 message).
So what is it about that particular article that caused it to be banned—again, eight months after it first appeared on Facebook—and me “punished”? If it’s the accompanying picture, which is hardly that graphic, Facebook could’ve done what it has done to other articles of mine: keep the post but remove the image. Aside from mentioning the movie, that article recaps the execution of 2015, quotes some family members’ views on the forthcoming film, and closes by mentioning how a memorial for the 21 Christian martyrs was erected in the Egyptian village of Al Our, whence several of them hailed.
The following excerpt from that article is the only thing I can think of that might have especially vexed Facebook (even though it’s 100% true):
It’s worth recalling that, at the time of their abduction and subsequent butchery, Western media were largely absent. Indeed, before the video appeared, the BBC had falsely reported that the majority of those now slaughtered Copts were “released.” (Such downplaying of Muslim persecution of Christians is not uncommon for the BBC.)
Around the same time that article got taken down from Facebook, on Oct. 15, 2021, the following comment appeared under another much more recent article on my website—one also about the Muslim persecution of Christians in Egypt:
I shared this article on Facebook and Facebook took it down saying it violated “Community Standards” with no further explanation given.
That article, titled “Coptic Christian Building Abruptly Demolished in Egypt,” merely summarized the findings of an Arabic language report about how Christian minorities in one Egyptian village, because they were banned from having a church, decided to build a community hall to hold their weddings and funerals in. As even that was deemed offensive to Muslim sensibilities, the authorities suddenly came, tore it down and beat and arrested the Christians. Everything about that account is also 100% true.
So what about it does not meet Facebook’s “standards”?
The only conclusion is that, not content with shadow banning articles on the brutal persecution Christians suffer at the hands of Muslims, Facebook is now openly and more aggressively outright banning them.
Moreover, there is reason to believe that Facebook’s actions are at least partially motivated by foreign entities. Seeing that the two articles that got “flagged” both dealt with the persecution of Egyptian Christians—Copts—I contacted Coptic Solidarity, to see if they’ve had similar experiences. Its director, Lindsay Vessey, wrote back saying,
Numerous countries, including Egypt, employ large cyber teams to flag content critical of their leader/government meaning that discussion of human rights violations in countries like China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt can be blocked, with repercussions to the account owner. Facebook needs to hire individuals who not only have the language skills to review posts, but who can maintain professional neutrality and distinguish between abusive content, and legitimate criticism of human rights abuses. My colleague, Faith McDonnell, who is a titan in the realm of religious freedom advocacy, had her Facebook account shut-down without warning, merely for posting an image of the Coptic martyrs on the beach in Libya. Her account was only reinstated after substantial negative publicity towards Facebook.
Facebook, it’s worth adding, is hardly the only one among “Big Tech” to suppress information on the Muslim persecution of Christians: Youtube censored my Prager U video on that exact topic; it also once “punished” me for sharing a video that the Islamic State made of its members destroying crosses and desecrating churches in Syria and Iraq—even though that video was not “graphic” (it depicted buildings and crosses, inanimate objects) and was going viral in the Arab world. As for Google, where once its search results for Islam-related topics would yield many of my articles on the first page, they now tend to be invisible, buried under a mountain of irrelevant if not fake information.
All of this is a reminder as to why an alternative—which may be coming soon courtesy the world’s most banned man from social media and search engines, Donald Trump—is desperately needed: one of his companies recently announced its plan “to create a rival to the liberal media consortium and fight back against the ‘Big Tech’ companies of Silicon Valley, which have used their unilateral power to silence opposing voices in America.”
No one can doubt this, just as no one—except those who profit from suppressing the truth—can want such wanton censorship of much-needed information to continue.
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