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Facebook removes gospel video from platform, says it's ‘political content.’ Then FB speaks out.
A gospel group's music video was removed from Facebook after its algorithm flagged the video as "political content." Facebook eventually restored the original post and apologized. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

Facebook removes gospel video from platform, says it's ‘political content.’ Then FB speaks out.

Facebook's social media algorithm blocked a gospel group's music video because it was considered “political content.”

What are the details of the video?

According to a New York Times report Thursday, the group, Zion's Joy!, shared the video for "What Would Heaven Look Like" to their Facebook page in May and paid $100 to the social networking company in an effort to promote the content.

Robert W. Stevenson told the Times that the video — which features images of protesting, strife, and all-around discord — was an attempt to “touch people’s hearts and let people know that we can do better than the world is doing right now.”

One line in the song reads, “I know it might feel like this trouble will stay, but this world will soon fade away.” The song paints a picture of a world with God in which “bigotry and hate are absent, only love and peace are present.”

Despite the positive message, the Facebook algorithm flagged the content as "political" and removed the paid content promotion from the platform after just a week.

Stevenson added that the gospel group was fastidious in ensuring to remove anything explicit from the footage they used for the beginning of the video.

“We wanted to make sure that it wasn’t leaning one way or the other,” he explained. “That it was just how we felt — people loving each other, regardless of race, creed or color.”

Stevenson explained that despite apparent indications otherwise, Facebook removed the video after the group attempted to pay for a second ad promotion — a "national boost," according to the Times report.

What did Facebook say?

In a Thursday statement, a Facebook spokesperson said that its policy on political ads is  “new, broad and exists to prevent election interference, so we’re asking people with content that falls under those rules to simply get authorized and show who paid for the ad in order for it to run.”

“Separately,” the Facebook spokesperson's statement continued, “we made an error by deleting the original post. As soon as we identified what happened, we restored the post since it does not violate our Community Standards and have apologized to Zion’s Joy.”

What are the guidelines regarding political ads, anyway?

According to a May post on Facebook's Newsroom, the social media network's new rules include all “election-related and issue ads” and must openly disclose who paid for the ad, if any such promotion payment was made.

Facebook also noted that all such ads would be collected and compiled into a searchable archive.

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