According to several members of the clergy, Facebook has been targeting them and blocking out their profiles for including their titles there. After a couple of pastors and reverends had their accounts blocked inexplicably, one of them agreed to speak to Atheist Republic about his bitter experience.
Deacon Bob Heskamp, who was ordained as a minister more than a decade ago, said his title is now part of his identity, even on his social networking profiles, including the one on Facebook.
“I am a deacon,” said Bob Heskamp. “I am proud of that and the kind of thing I do for the community. There are many people who are looking for some advice. And they know, if they start off their search with ‘deacon' or ‘father' or ‘reverend' they should probably have no problem getting ahold of one of us to talk to us. So it's a wonderful evangelizing tool.”
However, Heskamp said he was disheartened when this tool was taken away from him. On February 10, he discovered he had been blocked by Facebook for using his title “Deacon”.
“It kind of takes away from who and what I am,” said Heskamp.
Now, Deacon Bob Heskamp is only Bob Heskamp on Facebook and he claims the change in his identity really does sadden him.
“It's not like I am preaching to people and they are stuck listening to it like on church on Sunday,” Heskamp noted. “People can choose to read and comment and like what they see or not.”
As part of Facebook’s longstanding policy, members cannot use their professional titles on their social networking profiles but it is only recently that the company has started to enforce the policy rather stringently. According to Heskamp, many of his friends were blocked as well for using their respective religious titles.
“We are all scratching our heads,” Heskamp stated. “Because I think it all kind of caught us by surprise.”
Facebook’s blocking of such accounts has received quite a backlash from America’s religious community. Last week, a group of believers created a Facebook page titled ‘Tell FB: Allow Catholic Priests to Keep the Title “Father” in Their FB Name’. The page has over 12,000 likes, as last checked.
“I can't help but think this is all about political correctness,” said an outraged Heskamp.
While Heskamp can include Deacon in the parentheses, just below his name, he said it does not serve his interest, as that format does not allow his title to appear in search results.
Facebook, however, was not available for comment.
Photo Credits: Boomsbeat