Facebook labels St Augustine church quote as ‘hate speech’

Several users have reported that the apparently innocuous quote has been removed without clear explanation.


A quote from St Augustine has apparently been prohibited from Facebook.
Domenico Bettinelli, a pro-life activist from Massachusetts, said in a blog post that a passage by St Augustine from the divine office was taken down as it violated Facebook’s “Community Standards on hate speech”.


“Let us never assume that if we tend to live good lives we’ll be without sin; our lives should be praised only when we still beg for pardon. However men are hopeless creatures, and the less they focus on their own sins, the more interested they become in the sins of others. They seek to criticize, not to correct. Unable to justify themselves, they’re ready to accuse others.”


In a post on Facebook, Bettinelli said the quote “is simply a reformulation of Jesus’ own words from Matthew 7:3 “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, however don’t perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?” is the Gospel hate speech by Facebook’s standards?”


Bettinelli posted the quote when he saw that 2 priests had posted the excerpt from the workplace of Readings which it had been flagged by Facebook. They believed that an algorithmic rule was flagging the content.
After his post was additionally removed, Bettinelli requested somebody’s review appealing the decision and later received notice that his appeal was rejected.


In his response to the unsuccessful appeal, Bettinelli wrote: “I still don’t understand why this can be hate speech. It’s a quote from a Catholic saint who expresses the opposite of hate speech. He’s primarily restating the words of Jesus Christ in the Gospels to prevent worrying concerning what the other guy is or isn’t doing and worry about your own flaws. Is Facebook saying that the Gospel is hate speech? However what’s worse is that I even have no more understanding currently of what’s a violation of your community standards than I did before. I cannot for the life of me find out why you label this hate speech.”


He later told LifeSiteNews that he might have found a solution to the mystery: “A friend posted just ‘men are hopeless creatures’ which got banned, so that looks to be the relevant part that’s hate speech,” he said.


“If FB doesn’t want me to post it, then I’m going to blog concerning it and then I’m going to podcast about it and I’m going to create a stink about it till somebody with some power gets FB to admit that quotations from early Church fathers isn’t hate speech,” said Bettinelli.


A Facebook spokesperson said: “We’ve reviewed this post and can ensure it was removed in error. It’s currently been restored.”