Facebook apologises for deleting an ‘offensive’ photo of a mixed-race gay couple’s wedding

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Social media site Facebook has apologised for deeming that a photograph of a mixed-race gay couple was “offensive”.

Facebook apologised as it also blocked the leader of one of the US’s biggest equal marriage campaigns from accessing the site as he had posted the photograph.

Murray Lipp, the manager of the Facebook page for Gay Marriage USA, which has 300,000 fans, was notified by the site that the photograph of a gay couple was “offensive”.

Mr Lipp was told by Facebook administrators that they had received several complaints, and that he would be banned from posting content on the Gay Marriage USA page for a week for violating Facebook’s “policies and community standards.”

The photograph was of Erik D Swope-Wise, a bishop at a small Pentecostal church, and his husband getting married.

Before being removed from the site, several homophobic comments were posted underneath the photograph. One read: “I am just in disgust with their lifestyle. It’s disgusting and completely vile.”

A second said: “Someone please explain to me how it is acceptable when man and man/ woman or woman cannot conceive children? It is our purpose in life to conceive children.”

Several other comments quoted passages from the bible saying that gay sex is wrong, and some threatened to have the page taken down altogether.

After being notified of the issue, Facebook reinstated the page, and Mr Lipp’s account.

However, Mr Lipp said this wasn’t the first time he had been blocked form the social networking site, and that other complaints had also originated from homophobic followers of his page.

Speaking to the Guardian, Mr Lipp said: “Not once has Facebook ever contacted me to give me an opportunity to respond – it simply blocks me each time and each time the block is for a longer period of time. It’s totally unjust that I should be punished for someone else’s homophobia.”

The Guardian reported that a Facebook spokesperson said the site receives thousands of complaints a day, and that mistakes were made but that a long-term review was underway to re-evaluate the way the site deals with accusations of offense.

“The content of the photograph in question did not violate our terms, however it was removed in error.” The spokesperson said, admitting that the correct action would have been to take down the homophobic comments: “Normally these comments are reviewed separately and removed where appropriate. In this instance the photograph itself was mistakenly taken down, despite there being nothing in the picture that breaks our rules. We apologise for the error.”

Facebook recently apologised after deleting content posted to the PinkNews page, because it contained the word “faggot” in the headline.

The story in question was about rapper Azealia Banks, who called blogger Perez Hilton a “messy faggot” and said that he should “kill himself”. Two previous versions of the story had previously been posted without deletion.

All managers of the Facebook PinkNews page were temporarily suspended from using the site.

Some have been critical of Facebook, however, as it took a petition of 700 signatures, and much longer for it to remove a homophobic Facebook page aimed at outing gay Ugandans.