FaithZette

The Facebook Apology Tour Now Includes Jesus

On the hot seat for other reasons, the social media giant accidentally (or not?) nuked a university's image of the Lord on the cross

Facebook has been having a hard time lately.

Failing to protect the data of its users was one thing — and shocking at that. Fittingly, the social media behemoth’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, will be answering to various congressional committees on Capitol Hill next week about those transgressions.

But the company may have to answer to a higher authority than Congress for other sins.

Facebook censored Jesus. And on Good Friday, too.

Specifically, the company rejected an ad placed by Franciscan University of Steubenville, a Catholic university in Ohio. The ad featured an iconographic image of the San Damiano cross, Fox News reported. That particular depiction, interestingly, is unusual in that it intentionally avoids depicting the clothed, crucified Christ in agony.

Thomas Crowe, Franciscan’s web communications director, clarified the timeline in an email to LifeZette on Wednesday. The ad was rejected on Good Friday (last Friday) and Crowe published a blog post on the matter that same day. Facebook later approved the post — and Franciscan received notice of that approval on Monday.

A screen grab of Facebook’s offensive accusation about Jesus (see image below) was included in Crowe’s post on the school’s website. It read, “Your image, video thumbnail or video can’t contain shocking, sensational or excessively violent content.” Though Facebook’s intent to weed out “explicit content” is laudable — casting the Savior of the World as such is definitely not.

To its credit, Facebook did repent of this particular sin — in a somewhat roundabout manner. “Our team processes millions of ads each week, and sometimes we make mistakes,” a Facebook representative 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.”

“Facebook never reached out with any special effort to indicate that they had rejected this ad by mistake (the notification was just like every other ad approval notification, of which I receive many),” said Crowe in an emailed statement to LifeZette. “Nor have I seen an apology sent directly to us — the apology Fox reported was sent to them. It did not come to our Facebook page or to any of the email addresses associated with our page,” he added.

Crowe emphasized that neither he nor Franciscan holds any ill will toward Facebook. Quite the opposite is true, in fact.

“We didn’t go into this wanting to tar Facebook as anti-Christian or religious bigots or anything like that. We have worked with representatives from Facebook many times over the six or so years we’ve been advertising on Facebook, and they have always been very eager to help us improve our ad campaigns and make sure we’re getting the best bang for our buck,” Crowe told LifeZette.

“I wrote what I wrote on our blog not as a ‘gotcha’ against Facebook in particular, but because of how readily and easily the world rejects Christ on the cross — and the world, through Facebook’s mishap, rejected Christ crucified on Good Friday,” Crowe added.

Regarding his hopes for the ultimate outcome of Facebook’s Good Friday rejection, Crowe said, “We hope more people are brought to faith through this.”

Facebook erred. Facebook apologized. Facebook made amends.

Related: Sorry, Mark Zuckerberg: No Oval Office for You

The offended party accepted the apology. The offended party refrained from disparaging the offender. The offended party used the event for greater good. And everyone moved on.

Sounds like an excellent model all around.

Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.