Facebook pulls Compass story due to ‘abusive content’

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.

Facebook has blocked a story link from The Compass website about a Byzantine monk's battle with Facebook about his religious title.

Facebook has blocked a story link from The Compass website about a Byzantine monk’s battle with Facebook about his religious title.

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!”

A second message that appears when trying to post a Compass story about Fr. Moses Wright to Facebook.

A second message that appears when trying to post a Compass story about Fr. Moses Wright to Facebook.

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.


  • Michael F. J. Lee

    Keep the pressure on them Sam! Good Job!
    God bless!

  • Jennifer P

    Facebook is anti-Christian.

    So why do so many Christians use it? Would it not be better to find other places to meet online?

    • Phoebe Gleeson

      Because we need to be speaking to the prostitutes and the tax collectors, not just the choir.

    • Craig Berry

      @jenniferprestash:disqus – yes, it would be nice to have a safe environment for Christians, but almost every effort to build a suitable social network has been a failure.

      • singcook1

        That’ might be because God wants us in the world. It is there we can display our faith and effect change. Besides… the world itself is not a safe environment. Being a light for the world can’t be accomplished by hiding the light under a basket (or a separate, suitable social network).

    • Elizabeth

      Then you give in and do just want the want – no Christian posting – better to use it and have so many Christians on it if they do things like this we can push back and get the ACLJ or Becket Fund involved in our religious freedom.

  • Please provide a link to your original Facebook post on this story so that readers may check on the link’s latest Facebook status.

  • We need to hold Facebook accountable.

    Punch back twice as hard!

    • AugustineThomas

      Or just stop using the service of a company that hates Christians.

      • I agree in principle, but if we do not fight the battles on the Enemy’s territory, we will also be on defense.

        Even if it is a simple “You know, I do not use Facebook — are you aware of the corporate intolerance Facebook exhibits?” to those who still use Facebook can be instructive.

        I doubt many Christians know that Facebook is not a fan of Christianity.

        Unfortunately, Facebook simply profits from the ignorance that has grown in America for several generations now. . . .

  • The_Monk

    I had a fb page for about six months, then pulled it. Am not a fan of the ‘let it all hang out’ culture where people post pictures, details and stuff that ought to be kept private. Maybe somebody will come up with a social format that promotes a grown-up culture….

    • Elizabeth

      I agree with you on a lot of that but for someone like me who is a housebound widow I connect with a lot of people I know via FB and I get so much wonderful news and teaching about the Catholic Faith from my Catholic FB friends and all the Priests and Religious I am friends with. FB is what you make it….trash on it or good things on it to share.

      • The_Monk

        Most assuredly you are correct in your assessment. I opted out as I – an adult man – was getting ‘friend’ requests from young women who knew members of my family. I’m not comfortable with that level of casual friendship, so closed the page. But I certainly understand your situation. I, too, know homebound, homeschooling Moms who find the fb camaraderie indispensable. Peace…

        • Elizabeth

          Oh too bad….yep I get weird friend requests too but I look at their page first to see who they are and what they post and if I think they are not 100% Catholic I delete the friend request. Nobody can force me to accept a friendship. But glad I have accepted some because I now know some awesome Catholics including priests who work with the poor and widows etc in places like Nigeria and Pakistan. They have helped by praying for me over things. One lady I met via Gretawire.com heard I was having a hard time one month meeting my bills and sent me $100 of which I paid back to her in a months time and we chat all the time and pray for each other. God Bless you for knowing what you can and can’t handle.

        • Elizabeth

          By the way….did you know there is a new alternative to Facebook that is Catholic that EWTN has been part of creating? I can send you the link to check it out if you want. It’s for Catholics by Catholics.

  • Kathryn Coe

    yesterday I read a post by Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs fame) about unwanted pornographic images being posted on his wall. He had to change his settings so that all comments and posts would have to go through a moderator who would be removing the porn and that all other comments would therefore take longer to post. So…pornography gets a pass but a monk changing his name is censor worthy? https://www.facebook.com/TheRealMikeRowe/posts/1040917235918419:0

    • Dawn Breidenbach

      Yes, because in the sick twisted FB world pornography is free speech, while religion is not.

  • Elizabeth

    We need the Becket Fund and the ACLJ to go to bat on this against Facebook!!!

  • Facebook allows you to put names in parenthesis as such

  • Mack

    Why would Father Moses, both as Christian and then as a monk, want a MeFaceSpaceBook at all?

  • AugustineThomas

    Perhaps you should just stop wasting time on Facebook!

  • Proteios

    Many have submitted to facebooks rules and policies. So what are these rules and policies they submit to? It seems that such policies are aiding a conformity to some standard. Another question is who is devising the standards that are adhered to. Unlike government, there isnt even the hint or suggestion of public participation. It is of great concern considering the influence it exerts and uses.