This Christmas, to the surprise of many, Facebook censored an image of the baby Jesus watched over by a prayerful Santa who was kneeling before the Christ Child in reverent contemplation.
By Matthew Devoy
The image was accompanied by a poem. Might we suggest that you first read the poem before you go on to discover how Facebook decided that the touching image could be seen by some as ‘violent or graphic.’ Be forewarned, the poem does allude to graphic violence— nails and scars, in a very real but nuanced way, but it also loudly echoes laughter and love.
‘My dear precious Jesus, I did not mean to take your place,
I only bring toys and things and you bring love and grace.
People give me lists of wishes and hope that they came true;
But you hear prayers of the heart and promise your will to do.
Children try to be good and not to cry when I am coming to town;
But you love them unconditionally and that love will abound.
I leave only a bag of toys and temporary joy for a season;
But you leave a heart of love, full of purpose and reasons.
I have a lot of believers and what one might call fame;
But I never healed the blind or tried to help the lame.
I have rosy cheeks and a voice full of laughter;
But no nail—scarred hands or a promise of the hereafter.
You may find several of me in town or at a mall;
But there is only one omnipotent you, to answer a sinner’s call.
And so, my dear precious Jesus, I kneel here to pray;
To worship and adore you on this, your holy birthday.’
Now if you are wondering how the image associated with this poem could cause social media giant Facebook to cloud out the image, allowing viewers to see the potentially graphic or violent image only after consenting to the risk and clicking anyway, then read on.
The image in question was originally posted in 2015 and lived happily in cyberspace for the enjoyment of all. Then came Christmas of 2018 and the automated Facebook filters kicked in and blocked the image. Why? According to LifeSiteNews, Facebook automatically blocks images that are either mistakenly (or prankishly) flagged as potentially ‘graphic and violent.’ And that is exactly what happened. In fairness, Facebook eventually removed the digital block on the feast of the original Santa Claus, St Nicholas himself.
So, the story has a happy ending and Santa and the Baby Jesus are safely back on the servers of social media. However, as the new year unfolds, one is left wondering why the discerning public or the Facebook executives, that block the Baby Jesus, or Saint Nicholas, would not be better off blocking material on the web that is really harmful, so that children who have been gifted smartphones or tablets by the man in the red suit can surf the internet safely and be warned of content that is genuinely violent and graphic.
Would that be too much to ask from the nice people down at Palo Alto as a Christmas gift to the children of the world in 2019?
Photo: The image censored by Facebook showed Santa on one knee in front of the baby Jesus
(PHOTO: JENNIFER BEAHM CRAWFORD / FACEBOOK)