The social media giant Facebook has restored the more than two dozen conservative Catholic pages it had mysteriously blocked on Tuesday, blaming the incident on “a spam detection mechanism on the platform.”
Observers are still skeptical, since Facebook seemed to target only conservative Catholic pages with a significant following, whereas a glitch in the system would have randomly blocked sites regardless of their orientation. The blocked Catholic pages generally had between hundreds of thousands and up to 6 million followers, according to Catholic News Agency (CNA).
One of the blocked pages called “Fr. Rocky” belonged to a U.S. Catholic priest Fr. Francis J. Hoffman, executive director of Relevant Radio, whose page had 3.5 million likes. Another site, “Catholic and Proud,” had 6 million followers and was similarly blocked.
Some of the page administrators of the blocked Catholic sites speculated that perhaps they were being censored, since Facebook has been accused in the past of censoring “conservative” news and websites, an allegation that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has denied.
One page owner, Kenneth Alimba of Nigeria, said he believes he was targeted specifically because it was a Catholic page. “They’ve fought and continue to fight anything Catholic and conservative,” he said.