Facebook admits error in Gay Marriage USA page controversy

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By Malissa Rogers

Facebook apologized earlier this week for blocking the operator of one of the nation’s leading same-sex marriage campaigns from accessing the organizations page, following a photograph that he posted of a gay couple online.

Murray Lipp, the founder of the Gay Marriage USA Facebook page, which has around 295,000 fans, received a notification that the photograph that he posted of a gay couple was “offensive.” The photograph documents the marriage between a bishop and his husband at a small Pentecostal church, and has resulted in numerous complaints on the social networking site from opponents of gay marriage.

Facebook administrators sent a message to Lipp, telling him that he would be prohibited from posting content on the Gay Marriage USA Facebook page for a week, for breaking Facebook’s “policies and community standards.”

However, this wasn’t the first time that Lipp had been accused of posting “prohibited content.” He claimed that he has been reprimanded by Facebook numerous times over the past year because of complaints, but he believes those complaints originated from gay marriage opponents that had subscribed to his page.

“Not once has Facebook ever contacted me to give me an opportunity to respond – it simply blocks me each time and each time the block is for a longer period of time,” Lipp said, according to the Guardian. “It’s totally unjust that I should be punished for someone else’s homophobia.”

Prior to the image being removed by Facebook, it had earned numerous anti-gay comments including: “I am just in disgust with their lifestyle. It’s disgusting and completely vile.”

Another said: “Someone please explain to me how it is acceptable when man and man/woman or woman cannot conceive children? It is our purpose in life to conceive children.”

Others quoted passages from the bible and threatened to have the Gay Marriage USA Facebook page shut down.

According to the Guardian, Facebook explained that the company receives thousands of complaints about content every day and occasionally mistakes are made. However, the social media network is currently reviewing their policies and how they go about dealing with accusations of offense.

A spokesman for Facebook said, “The content of the photograph in question did not violate our terms, however it was removed in error.”

The source for Facebook acknowledged that the correct action would have been to remove the anti-gay comments.

“Normally these comments are reviewed separately and removed where appropriate,” Facebook told the Guardian. “In this instance the photograph itself was mistakenly taken down, despite there being nothing in the picture that breaks our rules. We apologize for the error.”

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