A Facebook-based Catholic fundraising campaign suffered “critical” delays in the key donation period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Facebook’s new scrutiny of ads aimed at religious audiences is to blame, one social media expert has charged.
Matthew Meeks served as an advisor to a fundraising initiative of the Virginia-based Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations. The fund, founded in 2004, aims to help aspiring Catholic priests, nuns and monks who face heavy student loan burdens.
Meeks told CNA that new Facebook policies for ad approval created delays that “caused us to miss the bulk of Giving Tuesday, a day where the Fund for Vocations had planned to kick off a campaign through the Christmas season.”
The Mater Ecclesiae Fund “experienced significant issues with Facebook from the beginning of the campaign,” Meeks told CNA. “For one, the ad platform took more than 24 hours for the ads to be approved. The fund received a message that the content of the ads potentially violated Facebook’s discrimination rules regarding the exclusion of race, religion, sexuality, etc. for housing ads. This was neither a housing ad nor were they excluding a race or religion from receipt of the ads.”
“Once the ads went live, the Fund for Vocations received word from numerous people that they were unable to share the video in the advertisement, citing that the ‘feature was unavailable,’” Meeks said. “Finally, the ads received 2,555 direct clicks, 105,408 in impressions, 50,000 in reach and not a single penny in donations.”
CNA sought comment from Facebook, which initially requested additional information about the campaign, but subsequently stopped responding to inquiries.
In July 2017, more than 25 Catholic Facebook pages in English, Portuguese and Spanish were blocked without explanation, then restored the pages within hours. A Facebook spokesperson apologized and blamed “a malfunction of the spam detection mechanism in our platform.”
In 2016 the social media network faced allegations that its news curators were manipulating its trending news section to favor certain stories and disfavor others, especially politically conservative stories.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.