A West Virginia pastor is finding his ministry's Facebook page continually disabled by the social media giant and he wants to know why – and for one of the first times, Facebook has agreed to explain its action.
Facebook claims to have two billion users, meaning that at any given time roughly a third of all humanity is using the social media platform. Neil Potts, who is among the team that sets policy for Facebook, agreed to talk with OneNewsNow about Pastor Rich Penkoski's "Warriors for Christ" page, which has been taken down several times for what Facebook calls "hate speech."
"In this case," says Potts, "we felt that the attacks upon the people were actually doing more harm by silencing people within the larger Facebook community – and we removed the page."
In an earlier report, Penkoski told OneNewsNow that he "get[s] banned all the time .... If I post anything with the acronym LGBT in it, regardless of what it's about, it gets reported and I get banned for 30 days." He also said he personally knows what constitutes "hate speech" because he receives it constantly.
It doesn't seem to matter to Facebook that Penkoski never posted on anyone else's page – but LGBT activists found his page and reported him. So what did the pastor say that upset them so? Potts says it was a post claiming that "all" homosexuals are pedophiles and are pursuing children. He confirmed his accusation that Penkoski used the word "all." Penkoski disputes that.
"That's a lie," the pastor tells OneNewsNow. "I said that you are more likely to be a pedophile if you are a homosexual – I didn't say they 'all' were.
"As a matter of fact, I said the opposite," he continues. "[I said] that I understand that not all are; however, if you are a homosexual, statistically speaking, you are more likely to be a pedophile."
Potts was asked what Penkoski was supposed to do with the claims of scripture that might tend to, in his words, "silence members of the Facebook community" – although from the threats that were posted to the ministry's Facebook page, there didn't seem to be much silencing.
And OneNewsNow also asked Potts about vital ministry like counseling a suicidal woman who was cut off when the page was unpublished – a true example.
Facebook's answer? Two different pages – one for controversial material and another for more vital ministry. That solution didn't fly with Penkoski.
"I shouldn't have to separate it," he argues. "Our whole ministry is not about going up against the LGBT. I never even wanted that fight – they came to our page, they came to our ministry, they emailed me.
"Why should I have to separate what we do as a ministry? Who does Facebook think they are to tell me where I have to put my ministry if I'm going to continue to use their platform?"