Update: A representative from Facebook responded to a request for comment on Thursday, April 9 and explained that the issue was a technical error that has since been resolved, and the page is no longer being restricted.
Catholic filmmakers claim that Facebook chose Holy Week to shadowban their content.
Sancta Familia, Catholic filmmakers based in the Holy Family Mossend parish in Scotland, claim that Facebook alerted them on April 6 that their posts are not being shown in the News Feed. The alert reportedly said the content will not be shown until the end of the day on Sunday, April 12. Currently, posts are still being shown on the group’s page, but the alleged Facebook alert would mean that posts would be restricted through the end of Easter Sunday, the holiest day for Christians.
Sancta Familia Media shared the alleged Facebook notification in a tweet. The notification explains that “Stories from your Page are not being shown in News Feed. This could be due to activity from your Page that doesn’t comply with Facebook’s policies. This limit is temporary and expires Sunday, 12 April 2020 at 22:56.”
The Sancta Familia page was created in December, 2015, and has amassed more than 54,000 followers. The page regularly includes prayers, videos, memes, and other messages of faith. Bishop John Keenan has indicated that the page is “in full harmony with Catholic Social Teaching.”
During this time of social distancing and quarantine all over the world, church services and Mass are widely available for Holy Week worshippers online for those without access to services at their church. Access to such services includes Facebook videos and live streams. But only when that content hasn’t been restricted.
It is concerning that a Catholic page serving so many followers who are unable to worship in person could be restricted. It would be especially so if, as the page claims, it was provided no clear reason for this alleged restriction.
In addition to the importance of upcoming Holy Week services, the group has been providing a needed source of hope and inspiration during a very trying time for many as the quarantine persists. Reports from mental health services show alarming spikes in those reaching out for help during this difficult time, and religious messages are one resource that help many people to cope in such times.
Sancta Familia is encouraging its followers to reach out to Facebook to request that this temporary restriction be lifted.