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Facebook labels St Augustine quote as ‘hate speech’

St Augustine

Several users have reported that the seemingly innocuous quote has been removed without clear explanation

A quote from St Augustine has apparently been banned from Facebook.

Domenico Bettinelli, a pro-life activist from Massachusetts, said in a blog post that a passage by St Augustine from the Divine Office was taken down because it violated Facebook’s “Community Standards on hate speech”.

The quote says:

“Let us never assume that if we live good lives we will be without sin; our lives should be praised only when we continue to beg for pardon. But men are hopeless creatures, and the less they concentrate on their own sins, the more interested they become in the sins of others. They seek to criticize, not to correct. Unable to excuse themselves, they are ready to accuse others.”

In a post on Facebook, Bettinelli said the quote “is just a reformulation of Jesus’ own words from Matthew 7:3  “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?” Is the Gospel hate speech by Facebook’s standards?”

Bettinelli posted the quote after he saw that two priests had posted the excerpt from the Office of Readings and that it had been flagged by Facebook. They believed that an algorithm was flagging the content.

After his post was also removed, Bettinelli requested a human review appealing the decision and later received notice that his appeal was rejected.

In his response to the failed appeal, Bettinelli wrote: “I still don’t understand why this is hate speech. It’s a quote from a Catholic saint who expresses the opposite of hate speech. He is essentially restating the words of Jesus Christ in the Gospels to stop worrying about what the other guy is or isn’t doing and worry about your own flaws. Is Facebook saying that the Gospel is hate speech? But what’s worse is that I have no more understanding now of what is a violation of your community standards than I did before. I cannot for the life of me figure out why you label this hate speech.”

He later told LifeSiteNews that he may have found an answer to the mystery: “A friend posted just ‘men are hopeless creatures’ and that got banned, so that seems to be the relevant part that is hate speech,” he said.

“If FB doesn’t want me to post it, then I’m going to blog about it and then I’m going to podcast about it and I’m going to make a stink about it until someone with some power gets FB to admit that quotations from early Church fathers is not hate speech,” said Bettinelli.

A Facebook spokesperson said: “We’ve reviewed this post and can confirm it was removed in error. It has now been restored.”