19 August 2015

Is Facebook anti-Catholic?

Several months ago, Facebook - which I use with some regularity - unnecessarily began requiring members of the clergy to remove their ecclesiastical (Father, Deacon, etc.) titles - which are also their professional titles - from their names. This odd requirement from Facebook has not yet been made across the virtual board, but is slowly moving forward.

The well-known and excellent blogger Monsignor Charles Pope recently received the order from Facebook to remove "Msgr." from his name, claiming it is not the name he uses everyday. To prove it is, Facebook is demanding he produce two government documents testifying to this effect. Msgr. Pope summarizes Facebook's argument (Capello tip to Deacon Greg Kandra for the text of Msgr. Pope's e-mail):
They explain the reason for their action as:
We ask everyone on Facebook to use the name they go by in everyday life so friends know who they’re connecting with.
But of course this IS the name that I go by “in everyday life.” Further, I have had a Facebook account under the name of “Msgr. Charles Pope” for over 6 years now. This is my name, this is who I am. I have 5,000 friends on Facebook who know me by this.
If Msgr. Pope does not comply, Facebook will shut down his account; Msgr. Pope has now done this on his own.

When I created an account on Facebook several years ago, I did not include my ecclesial title in my name; I thought it unnecessary, but did not fault those who chose to include their title.

On the surface of things, I do not have a complaint with Facebook forbidding the use of professional title. After all, the official policy of Facebook clearly states that "by joining Facebook, you agree to use your authentic name and identity." I cannot deny that my parents did not give me that name "Father" at my birth.

That being said, Facebook does not follow it's policy in the case of drag queens who are allowed to use their "stage" names on Facebook instead of their authentic names and identity. If a drag queen can use a pseudonym, why can clergy not make use of their authentic titles which function as their names? The policy is not logically sound.

What is more, I know of at least four meteorologists who are able to use the professional title of "Meteorologist" before their names. To be fair, these pages are those of "news personalities," but it does not seem Facebook provided Msgr. Pope with a similar option (which really shouldn't be necessary because he is known as Msgr. Charles Pope).

I've been warning for some time now of a steadily growing "soft" persecution of the Church in the United States of America. It might seem insignificant, but this policy is yet another step on the road.

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