I’m Back! Facebook Restored My Account. A Thank You and Three Suggestions

After being permanently banned from Facebook — and then five days later, restored — Faith McDonnell has a word for Facebook and for Christians.

By Faith McDonnell Published on February 25, 2019

Dear Facebook:

I’m back! You restored my account on Wednesday night, February 20, and I am grateful.

On Friday, February 15, I made a photo of the 21 Martyrs and their ISIS killers on the Libyan seashore my temporary profile photo. This was done innocently, to honor the martyrdom anniversary of those brave, faithful men. But it was enough to send you into paroxysms and disable my account.

So I appealed to an impersonal non-human online entity with my very personal, human story of being a 25+ year advocate for persecuted Christians and other religious believers around the world. The result of that was your telling me my account was permanently closed and this would be the last email that I would receive about this matter. At that point, I didn’t know where to turn.

I know someone who knows someone at Facebook.

The power of other social media, like Twitter, and, ironically, you, Facebook, spread my plight far and wide. I wrote my first letter to you on The Stream, published February 18. That article caused quite a stir! I’ve done radio interviews, had others write stories about my banishment, and friends and followers from across the spectrum express their outrage. And yet …

That article caused quite a stir! I’ve done radio interviews, had others write stories about my banishment, and friends and followers from across the spectrum express their outrage. And yet… It was actually because I know somebody who knows somebody at Facebook that my banishment was lifted.

It was actually because I know somebody who knows somebody at Facebook that my banishment was lifted. So it’s not for just getting your foot in the door on Broadway or Hollywood or Nashville or Capitol Hill that requires knowing a guy who knows a guy! It’s necessary for keeping your Facebook account if it should be targeted — whether by an amoral algorithm or by an immoral grouch. And that brings me to my first suggestion:

Suggestion 1: Better with a Face

Facebook, you really are better when you have a face. The appeal process for a disabled account — whether a temporary suspension or the casting into the outer darkness for all eternity — has to be better.

I was extremely fortunate to contact a human being — a very nice, intelligent, concerned human being. That sure beats the heck out of the online form! I am extremely grateful for my reinstatement, and I understand the technical error that led to the disabling. But without a person to talk to I would have lost everything on my Facebook (and Messenger and Instagram) account. And I would have labored under the misconception that some rat fink had unreasonably accused me of violating community standards with an unsettling photo.

My other two suggestions are for the rest of us who use Facebook and Twitter and have opinions — sometimes strong opinions — but you can listen, Facebook.

Suggestion 2: Take Care of Your Data

Take care of your data! If my Facebook account had not been restored I would have lost contact with dozens and dozens if not hundreds of my Facebook friends. Many of my Facebook friends are also my correspondents on email, or WhatsApp, or some other form of communication. But not all! It would have taken me a very long time to track down and find an alternative way to communicate those friends. And first, I would have to remember everyone. We should all find a way to keep a list of our Facebook friends somewhere off of Facebook.

And then there are the photographs! Thankfully, I am like Adrian Monk in that I have back-ups of my back-ups of saved photos. But unlike Mr. Monk, I don’t have them neatly organized. Ask my colleagues at the Institute on Religion and Democracy (well, maybe you’d better not).

Photos that I would lose from Facebook might be found on my office computer or home laptop, within my cell phone, on one of 8 different flash drives or an external hard drive, on that mysterious thing called “The Cloud” or in a cardboard box under my desk. Or maybe in all those places. The only neatly organized, systematically ordered photos are the ones in my albums on Facebook. So keep track of your photos when you enter them on Facebook.

Suggestion 3: God is in Control

This is as much as a reminder to myself as a suggestion to you: Remember that God is in control. Sunday at church the reading from the Hebrew Scriptures was Genesis 45, the conclusion of the story of Joseph. You know the story. Joseph’s brothers hate him because their father loves him best. (Little lesson there for family dynamics.) They sell him to slave traders and he ends up in Egypt. Long story short, as Joseph tells his brothers when he meets them once again as the overseer of Egypt and second in command to the Pharaoh, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” And when famine came, Joseph did just that.

I don’t want to put too fine a point on it. Facebook. You didn’t intend to harm me, but the Lord God certainly did use this distressing incident for good. As I repeatedly told friends (and myself!), this was a Romans 8: 28 moment. “All things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to his purpose.”

Good has come from this incident:

  • More people, new people have been awakened to the plight of persecuted Christians around the world and the need to speak out.
  • I have been blessed to a larger platform from which to share news about Christians and other religious believers being persecuted. Thanks to the articles about my plight I have hundreds of new Twitter followers and some on Facebook, as well.

Friends, please show the same righteous anger for the truly persecuted.

Faith J. Hooper McDonnell's temporary Facebook profile picture of Christians who were martyred by ISIS

Faith J. Hooper McDonnell made this image of Christians who were martyred by ISIS her Facebook profile picture on Feb. 15. She was banned the same day.

Finally, Facebook, with your help I can challenge all of those who were concerned about my plight. I can confront all those who were outraged over my banishment with a hard truth. If I had written an article for The Stream that was solely about the 21 Martyrs, or any persecuted Christians, it would not have gotten anywhere near the attention, the shares, and the following that it did because it was about YOU, Facebook, disabling me.

I am deeply moved and grateful by those who showed solidarity with me by posting “the photo” on their own Facebook page.

Now, dear friends, I ask you to please show the same righteous outrage and exert the same energy for the truly persecuted. Let this reminder of their circumstances, their martyrdoms, their imprisonments, their tortures, and their enslavement never leave you. Speak of them with pride and sorrow and passion as you would of your own friends and family on Facebook. And wear, with humble, joyful awareness, the mystical oneness we have with those who suffer in the Body of Christ as it were your own orange prison jumpsuit and your own chains.

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