GREEN BAY – A story about a Byzantine monk’s decision to legally change his name in order to use his religious title on Facebook — posted on The Compass website Aug. 14 and shared on its Facebook page that same day — was blocked by Facebook due to “abusive” content.
On Monday morning, Aug. 17, The Compass contacted Facebook seeking an explanation.
The incident began after The Compass interviewed Fr. Moses Wright, known to friends on Facebook as Hierodeacon Moses, about changing his name in order to comply with Facebook regulations on authentic identities. On Aug. 12, Facebook changed his profile name from Hierodeacon Moses to his given name, Michael Wright. The next day, Fr. Moses, who lives at Holy Resurrection Monastery in St. Nazianz, drove to the Manitowoc County Courthouse in Manitowoc to begin the process of legally changing his name.
The following day, The Compass posted his story and shared it on Facebook – as did Fr. Moses.
Within hours, authorities at Facebook removed the story from The Compass Facebook page and Fr. Wright’s personal page. In addition, it blocked the link from being reposted. Anyone seeking to post the story on Facebook received one of two messages:
- “Warning: This Message Contains Blocked Content: Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.”
- “You can’t post this because it has a blocked link. The content you’re trying to share includes a link that our security systems detected to be unsafe. Please remove this link to continue.”
After discovering the story had been removed from his page, Fr. Moses posted on his page: “Censored Facebook? For real? Good grief!”
Since then, Fr. Moses has received hundreds of messages of support on his Facebook page. The story was picked up by Catholic News Live, a “crowd-sourced news gathering website for Catholics” that uses RSS feeds to generate its content. Other people have since posted the story from Catholic News Live on Facebook.
On Aug. 17, The Compass submitted a notice to Facebook seeking a clarification for its blocking of the Fr. Moses story. “I am writing to ask for a response to your blocking a link from a story about a Byzantine priest who is legally changing his name in order to get back his religious name on Facebook,” The Compass wrote. “There is nothing in the post that is ‘unsafe’ as stated in your message.”
The Compass is still waiting for a response.