Facebook has lifted a ban on a pro-life ad campaign in Ireland that featured an image of a human fetus, saying it had been mistaken in judging the image to be “graphic or violent.”
“In this instance we made a mistake in applying a warning screen over the image used in The Iona Institute’s ad. We have removed the warning screen and apologise for any inconvenience caused,” Facebook said.
Earlier this month, the Dublin-based Iona Institute for Religion and Society launched a Facebook ad campaign titled “still one of us,” a year after the passing of a referendum that removed constitutional protections for the unborn throughout Ireland.
Facebook had censored the image replacing it with the warning message: “This photo may be sensitive to some people.” The warning screen has now been removed.
According to the Irish Times, the image “was mistakenly categorised as one which could cause offence or may be sensitive by a member of Facebook’s content moderation team, known as content reviewers.”
A spokesperson for the Iona Institute said: “We very much welcome this decision. It is a victory for common sense and free speech.
“It was ridiculous for Facebook to have ever banned an ad showing an image of the 11-week-old baby in the womb. It was even more ridiculous that such an image was considered ‘violent’ or ‘graphic’ content,” the spokesperson said.
Facebook’s censoring of the pro-life ad occurred in the midst of a number of such measures in Europe just prior to the European elections.
Last week, Facebook shut down 23 pro-populist pages in Italy with a total of 2.5 million followers just two weeks before the European elections. The vast majority of the pages supported the populist parties La Lega (The League) and the 5-Star Movement (M5S) — which currently govern Italy in a coalition.
Elsewhere in Dublin, Facebook has set up a “war room” devoted to monitoring the lead-up to the European elections, with 40 teams of engineers, scientists, researchers, threat specialists, and experts for each country ready to censor unacceptable material.