This afternoon, the Facebook pages for Ex-Muslims of North America (with about 24,000 Likes) and Atheist Republic (more than 1,600,000 Likes) were hit with a restriction that allows them to post updates… but not reach any of their subscribers.
Essentially, nothing they post will show up automatically on their followers’ timelines, so their posts have no reach. The only way you can see their material is by going to their pages directly — which many people simply don’t do.
The restriction is in effect, Facebook says, for a full week.
Allie Jackson, the CEO of Atheist Republic, said on her personal Facebook page:
For over 6 years, Atheist Republic admins have been banned on our personal accounts and have had perfectly acceptable posts removed, because people have harassed us over content they didn’t like. Facebook knows their algorithms are abused by people and groups. They blame us for not following terms of service, or community standards, while the people harassing us get rewarded for organizing complaints over content they disagreed with.
She added in an email to me:
These groups and pages are the only homes to millions of atheists who otherwise wouldn’t have anyone to speak to. Our organization helps people with a one on one support group, and we also help people figure out asylum plans when their lives are threatened in Islamic countries and need to flee. It’s not just a page…it’s a lifeline.
At a time when Facebook is one of the few places where ex-Muslims and religious dissidents can gather and discuss their views, these restrictions aren’t just mere inconveniences.
If anyone can shed light on this matter, or has the ability to remove the restrictions, your help would be appreciated.
***Update***: A similar restriction was apparently placed on دخلك بتعرف؟, an Arabic language page with a large atheist audience, two days ago.
***Update 2***: This may be part of an organized attempt at shutting down pages that are “anti-Islamic.”