Why did Facebook ‘kill’ charity’s petition drive against the forced marriage of Christian women and girls?

Shannon Mullen   By Shannon Mullen for CNA

 

Aid to the Church in Need UK says it’s been de-platformed by Facebook in response to the charity’s petition drive to stop the forced marriage and conversion of Christian women and girls. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 22, 2021 / 12:22 pm (CNA).

A Catholic charity says it’s been censored and de-platformed by Facebook without explanation in connection with the group’s recent petition drive calling for greater efforts to stop the abduction and forced conversion and marriage of Christian women and girls in Islamic countries.

London-based Aid to the Church in Need UK launched its campaign with a series of Facebook ads in early November. The organization’s effort was held in conjunction with the release of its new report, titled “Hear Our Cries,” which details the rampant and widely ignored abuse of women and girls who are Christians or members of other religious minority groups at the hands of Islamic extremists in Nigeria, Mozambique, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Pakistan.

Within a week, on Nov. 10, Facebook notified the charity that the social media giant was sharply curtailing the number of ads the group could post. The notice didn’t specify a reason.

“This is because too many ads were hidden or reported for ad accounts associated with this business. People hide and report ads because they find them to be offensive, misleading, sexually inappropriate, violent, about a sensitive topic or for other reasons,” the notice states.

This is the advertisement that Aid to the Church in Need UK posted on Facebook in support of the charity's petition drive to help women and girls who are abducted and forced to convert and marry Islamic men. Courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need UK
This is the advertisement that Aid to the Church in Need UK posted on Facebook in support of the charity’s petition drive to help women and girls who are abducted and forced to convert and marry Islamic men. Courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need UK

The charity says it also has lost access to the WhatsApp instant messaging platform and Instagram, both owned by Facebook.

Ever since the restrictions were imposed, Aid to the Church in Need UK says it has tried, without success, to get an explanation from Facebook. The closest the group has come to receiving a response was an email saying that the matter was being reviewed.

“We totally understand the urgency on this matter and how important this is for you, but such situations require a detailed investigation and solution, and considering the circumstances, we can not offer a time limit,” reads the email, sent by “Alex” from “Facebook Concierge Support.”

John Pontifex, the charity’s head of press and information, told CNA that Facebook’s action effectively “killed” the group’s petition campaign, which wound up garnering 3,210 signatures. That total was about one-quarter of what the charity anticipated, based on the results of a prior petition drive, he said. Pontifex delivered the petitions on Dec. 15 to Fiona Bruce, a Member of Parliament who is Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s special envoy for religious freedom.

In a statement, Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director of Aid to the Church in Need UK, blasted Facebook for its actions.

“We are horrified that our campaign which aims to help suffering women has been censored in such a draconian manner,” he said.

“By claiming to have banned our advert for violating its guidelines, but refusing to say which guidelines or how, Facebook have made themselves judge, jury and executioner.”

Kyrke-Smith went on to accuse Facebook of aiding and abetting the abuses the charity is trying to stop.

“By curbing this campaign, they are silencing these women twice over,” he said. “They are silenced when they are seized from their homes and forced to live with their abductors, and have now been silenced again by Facebook.”

A Facebook spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment prior to publication.

Aid to the Church in Need is a pontifical foundation directly under the Holy See that advocates for people of faith who are “persecuted, oppressed or in need,” according to the group’s mission statement.


If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.


About Catholic News Agency 6478 Articles
Catholic News Agency (www.catholicnewsagency.com)

1 Comment

  1. Meanwhile in this country the House is hotly debating a bill against ‘Islamophobia’ and silencing those who speak out against the bill, and in their next breath they wonder why respect for them has gone to an all-time low.

    How sad, how pathetic.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Why did Facebook ‘kill’ charity’s petition drive against the forced marriage of Christian women and girls? – Via Nova Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.


*