Claim: Facebook banned a user for 30 days because her use of the phrase “God bless” violated the social network’s community standards.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, November 2015]
A friend of mine just got a thirty day ban, apparently because “God bless you” is against Facebook community standards. via Jean Strong on Facebook. Seems like a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon
Origins: On 13 November 2015 the Facebook page “American Patriot’s Resistance” published the above-reproduced screenshot, alongside a claim that user Shelly Smith’s Facebook account was suspended for 30 days because Smith’s use of the phrase “God Bless” violated the social network’s community standards:
Facebooks liberalism strikes again! Our dear friends that run the patriot page, We want Liberty, Not Tyranny. Made this post for Veterans Day. And it was reported! And, removed, and everyone put on a Facebook ban. Why? Simply due to the post having GOD BLESS in it!
This is just too much!!!!
Nowhere in the appended screenshot did Facebook indicate the term “God bless” violated their community standards, simply that the content or nature of Smith’s post somehow did. The claim appeared to be entirely based upon an unsupported guess that Facebook deemed “God Bless” to be a violation of their community standards guidelines, clearly outlined by the social network here.
Those easily accessible rules don’t mention religion, God, or even proselytizing amid the activities prohibited by Facebook. That fact indicated something else in Smith’s post triggered the purported 30-day ban, and the image itself included a lengthy link most people were unlikely to physically type in to double check the claim:
We manually entered the URL shared by Smith to view the activity for which Smith was ostensibly temporarily suspended from Facebook. It pointed to an 11 November 2015 post (since removed) which was quite obviously the cause of the ban, as it violated the Facebook Community Standards prohibition against “bullying and harassment”:
I want everyone to know how shitty Mr [redacted] is of [redacted] in [redacted]
I am getting forclosed [sic] on my home while I am in Barnes-Jewish Hospital after 7 open heart surgeries. Because Social Security stopped payment to me by accident and I didn’t realize it until I was in the hospital for over 30 day. I sent my wife to be with power of attorney to the bank to reason with the CEO [redacted] to wait till my back pay came in. He said their [sic] is nothing he could do about it. I am a Marine Veteran and ask not for hand outs, Just for phone calls to let him know how big of a piece of shit he really is.
To bad with his banker hours and he is not in on Veterans Day!
[redacted phone numbers]
Clearly, linking to a post that included a private individual’s personal information along with an incitement for users to contact and harass the named party was what triggered Smith’s ban, not the use of the term “God bless.” Similar rumors were circulated about USMC icons supposedly being banned from Facebook, but a Facebook representative subsequently confirmed to us that such content “[does] not violate Facebook’s Community Standards, and therefore would not be removed from our platform.”
It was possible some readers mistakenly inferred Smith was banned for the use of the term “God bless,” as the lengthy URL pointing to the offending post was provided as a text string rather than a hyperlink and thus discouraged viewers from checking it. However, it was clear the nature of the violation was not related to any mention of God, but rather to linking to an open call to harass a private individual by publishing his work details and phone number (a post to which Smith incidentally appended the phrase “God bless”).
Last updated: 13 November 2015
Originally published: 13 November 2015