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Facebook has apologized to evangelist Franklin Graham for mistakenly banning him, more than two years after the fact, for an April 2016 post defending the push for North Carolina’s controversial HB 2 law, reports the Asheville Citizen Times.
In the post in question, Graham, the son of the late Rev. Billy Graham, attacked musician Bruce Springsteen for cancelling a concert in North Carolina to protest passage of the law, which undermined local ordinances protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination and required transgender people to use only those public restrooms and other facilities that match their assigned sex at birth.
“[Springsteen] says the NC law #HB2 to prevent men from being able to use women’s restrooms and locker rooms is going ‘backwards instead of forwards.’ Well, to be honest, we need to go back! Back to God. Back to respecting and honoring His commands. Back to common sense,” Graham wrote on April 9, 2016.
“Mr. Springsteen, a nation embracing sin and bowing at the feet of godless secularism and political correctness is not progress,” Graham continued. “I’m thankful North Carolina has a governor, Pat McCrory, and a lieutenant governor, Dan Forest, and legislators who put the safety of our women and children first! HB2 protects the safety and privacy of women and children and preserves the human rights of millions of faith-based citizens of this state.”
On Dec. 28, Graham took to Facebook to complain that his account had been temporarily blocked for 24 hours because of that 2016 post, saying that the post had been determined by Facebook to violate the company’s “community standards on hate speech.” He argued that what he wrote did not constitute hate speech.
“Facebook is trying to define truth,” Graham wrote. “There was a character in a movie a few years back who said, ‘The truth is what I say it is!’ That’s what Facebook is trying to do. They’re making the rules and changing the rules. Truth is truth. God made the rules and His Word is truth. Actually, Facebook is censoring free speech. The free exchange of ideas is part of our country’s DNA.”
But on Sunday, Graham posted that his privileges had been restored, and the post re-appeared on Facebook. He also posted a screenshot of Facebook’s apology form letter.
Appearing on Fox News’ Fox & Friends on Sunday, Graham said he accepted Facebook’s apology, but noted that “as Christians, we don’t back down and we don’t change who we are and what we say and what we do.”
He also expressed concern about the timing of the ban, noting that the post was from two years ago, and implying the decision to ban him appeared to be politically motivated.
“I’m certainly against hate speech, I’m certainly against people using Facebook to incite violence against somebody, but just having a different opinion other than somebody at Facebook and then to be labeled as hate speech, that’s sad,” he said.
Graham’s temporary banning adds fuel to claims made by social conservatives that Facebook and other social media platforms are biased against conservatives, as many prominent right-wing figures have seen their accounts suspended for alleged “hate speech.” Earlier this summer, Republican lawmakers in Congress held hearings questioning whether social media companies were deliberately censoring conservative views.
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