Facebook recently censored a music video called “What Would Heaven Look Like,” The New York Times reported Thursday.
The gospel group known as Zion’s Joy! tried promoting its recording on Facebook, which often costs money. But it was later notified that it counted as “political content” and was subsequently blocked from not only being pushed for extra publicization, but was removed from the platform altogether.
“We made an error by deleting the original post,” a Facebook spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “As soon as we identified what happened, we restored the post since it does not violate our Community Standards and have apologized to Zion’s Joy.”
It did not add details as to how it ended up blocked — meaning, whether it was the secretive algorithms it employs, or human content moderators.
“We want to touch people’s hearts and let people know that we can do better than the world is doing right now,” Zion’s Joy! founder Robert Stevenson said, according to TheNYT.
Regardless of subjective artistic tastes, the video appears to be fairly innocuous, with demonstrators showing emotion, both yelling and embracing one another. There’s also showcases of human compassion and passion, respectively, with medics attending to injured people, and then right after a tussle among protesters. The rest, for the most part, is the diverse group chiming in with their singing.
“People of every color, loving one another. Tell me (tell me) what would heaven look like (what would it look like),” the group chants melodically. “Bigotry and hate are absent, only love and peace are present. Tell me what would heaven feel like (what would it feel like) (yeah).”
There are also several references to God.
“Every race and creed will praise Him. Every town from every nation. As one we’ll all worship His name,” two of the members sing before the chorus.
“We wanted to make sure that it wasn’t leaning one way or the other,” Stevenson continued, presumably referring to ideology and politics. “That it was just how we felt — people loving each other, regardless of race, creed or color.”
The gospel song of peace and harmony is just one of many such incidences. Facebook has been accused of inappropriately censoring content for quite some time, but examples appear to be far more prevalent in recent weeks.
Facebook apologized Tuesday for removing a post that featured the text from the Declaration of Independence. While it’s not clear, once again, if it was the algorithm’s fault, or if a human reviewer ruled that America’s founding document is too politically incorrect, it’s likely that the term “Indian Savages” was the justification for it being flagged. (RELATED: Zuckerberg: We Are Hiring So Many Content Moderators, We’re Going To Lose Money On Political Ads)
And for “political content” — like the aforementioned gospel music video situation — which is a relatively recent initiative from Facebook, the system seems to be messing up all the time.
Wednesday, The Wes Cook Band said that Facebook prevented it from promoting its patriotic “I Stand For The Flag” song because it was deemed political, and thus had to go through its political ad vetting process.
“It has [to do] with a level of political bias that we feel that Facebook has within its algorithms,” band member Nathan Stoops told “Fox and Friends” Thursday. “If these algorithms are programmed to reject content like ‘I Stand for the Flag,’ then I think that would give a lot of Americans the right to be offended by that level of bias within a company that purports itself to be politically neutral.” (RELATED: Facebook Spent Millions Lobbying The Government Over The Years. Has It Been A Total Waste?)
A professor detailed at the end of May how he was unable to purchase an ad slot for a podcast of his discussing Russia because it was also considered political.
How about Bush’s Baked Beans, or advertisements for bush-trimming? It’s political, according to Facebook.
“This policy is new, broad, and exists to prevent election interference,” the Facebook spokeswoman said Friday. “So we’re asking people with content that falls under those rules to get authorized and show who paid for the ad in order for it to run.”
TheNYT itself has complained that it can’t elevate certain original content because some have been scooped up in Facebook’s larger campaign against political ads.
The article has been updated to include Facebook’s comments sent to TheDCNF.
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