Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A Footnote to Previous Posting: Facebook Is Now Labeling Links to Bilgrimage as "Violent" and "Graphic"

A footnote to the posting I just uploaded here a moment ago: I shared a number of days ago that Facebook was removing from my Facebook feed postings I made there linking to this Bilgrimage blog which were about the dangerous response of the US Christian right to the current pandemic. After a number of us sent reports to Facebook protesting what it was doing — it flashed a message to anyone trying to post a link to my blog, saying that the blog violated Facebook "community standards" — Facebook restored several, but not all, of the deleted postings and unblocked links to my blog.

But today I discover, when I tried posting a Facebook link to the posting linked above, Facebook permitted the link to go through, but labeled the posting with a warning statement that the link pointed to violent or graphic material — presumably the picture of Cardinal Collins of Toronto, which is the image that had shown up when Facebook configured my posting, is violent or graphic!

I then retried posting the same link using a Bit.ly shortened form, and that time, the posting showed an image of the angels found on the homepage — from a painting of Giotto di Bonedone of "Scenese from the Life of Christ." Those angels, too, are presumably violent or graphic.

This is obviously a way of booby-trapping links to Bilgrimage when I try posting them on Facebook, so that no one will want to access the blog. Facebook friends reported to me as links to the blog were being blocked last week that the link to Bilgrimage's url on my Facebook About page flashed a warning that the blog was hazardous and the connection it was not private, if anyone tried to click on that link.

Why would Facebook treat a Facebook user this way? I have to assume that someone or several someones have pressured it to do so.

Have you noticed the number of trolls that suddenly popped up here when I began posting about the dangerous response of the US Christian right to the current pandemic, all shouting the same talking points — only a tiny handful of churches want to keep meeting now; Catholics aren't pressing for some meetings; our Catholic private Masses of 10 people or fewer harm no one; going to those Masses is no more harmful to anyone than going to a grocery store?

It's no accident that these folks all lit on this blog at the same time, shouting in unison. Some people really, really do not want critical discussion right now of how many "pro-life" white US Christians are engaging in and promoting behavior during this pandemic that is the antithesis of pro-life behavior.

I am not saying the people trolling this blog in recent days (and I have no doubt they'll continue to try to troll it, with others joining them) are responsible for getting Facebook to label postings linking to Bilgrimage as violent or graphic. It's also entirely possible that some of them are, in fact, involved in pressuring Facebook to try to shut me up.

What Facebook is doing is harrassment pure and simple. They're directly targeting this Bilgrimage blog. When I have been posting links on Facebook for at least a decade now, linking to Bilgrimage, and they only now want to label any link even to the blog's homepage as a link pointing to violent and graphic material, there is no other conclusion to draw.

If the blog contains violent and graphic material, why has Facebook not labeled it with that label for many years now? Why start only as it yanks postings about the dangers posed by some US Christians to all of us during this pandemic?

I now intend to try to get media coverage of what Facebook is doing to my Bilgrimage blog, and would appreciate the assistance of any readers willing to see if you can solicit media attention for this story. There are vastly more important stories for the media to deal with right now, but when Facebook's role in helping place Donald Trump in the White House is a matter of record, and when Facebook is now colluding with Fox News, and when Facebook has stacked its moderating department with right-wing moderators, this is a story that deserves attention, it seems to me.

P.S. Later (April 8, 2:48 P.M. CST): It appears my kvetching may have had an effect with someone somewhere. I have just once again tried posting a link to the Bilgrimage homepage on Facebook, and now find that the ugly warning message that appeared yesterday when I did so, warning that the site might contain violent and graphic content, now no longer pops up.

I'll monitor to see how long this lasts.

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