Facebook has apologized for censoring an ad from a Catholic university Wednesday, after claiming it contained “shocking and excessively violent” material.
The ad was for the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. The ad depicted Jesus Christ hanging from the cross after he was crucified on Good Friday. The school had published several advertisements for its masters degree program before their ad showing the San Daminao Cross was flagged and rejected, Fox News reported.
“It may have been the algorithm or a low level staffer who has something against Christianity,” Tom Crowe, Steubenville’s web communications director, told Fox News. “For whatever reason, Facebook rejected the cross.”
Facebook tried to brush off the incident and said it had nothing to do with matters of faith.
“Our team processes millions of ads each week, and sometimes we make mistakes,” a Facebook spokesperson told Fox News. “This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologize for the error and have already let the advertiser know we approved their ad.”
Crowe said he wasn’t claiming the existence of a vast conspiracy against Christians, but did question the company’s logic and thought it could be a result of religious bias.
“It is also true that Facebook approved other ads with the exact same image, which again leads me to believe it wasn’t an algorithm, but was a low-level staffer who skims many, many ads and just had something personal against this one,” Crowe said. “I’ll reiterate that I’m not claiming systemic religious bigotry at Facebook, but in this case it seems something like that happened in a one-off situation.”
Crowe wrote about the incident on the school’s website and titled it: “He Was Rejected.” In the piece he questions how depicting the glory of God could be offensive.
“The San Damiano Cross. Jesus in glory, reigning from his cruciform throne. This is what the monitors at Facebook consider excessively violent, sensational, and shocking,” Crowe wrote. “It was love that kept [Jesus] there. Love for you and for me, that we might not be eternally condemned for our sins but might have life eternal with him and his Father in heaven.”