Facebook and YouTube temporarily blocked previews for producer Kirk Cameron’s latest film, Unstoppable—a move the social media site later blamed on a technical malfunction.
Cameron posted a note on his Facebook page Friday saying the company had taken down links to the preview, labeling the content as “abusive,” “unsafe,” and “spammy.” He called the project his “most personal film.” Cameron has come under fire for expressing his views on homosexuality in the past, but this particular film seems more evangelical in nature than political.
“We have been officially shut down by Facebook and unable to get any response from them,” Cameron wrote. “Please help us encourage Facebook to unblock our website soon by sharing this post with your friends so more people can see this transparent, faith-building project.”
And share they did. E! Online reported 339,000 shares and 108,000 likes, and that number has continued to increase.
Cameron updated his page the next day, saying Facebook had apologized and fixed the link. But then YouTube began blocking the preview. This time, it was being cited for violating YouTube’s policy against “spam, scams, and commercially deceptive content,” according to Deadline.
Once again, Cameron’s fans protested, and both content providers unblocked the preview on Friday. Facebook released a statement apologizing, and chalked up the incident to a mistake in its automated malware systems. The link, it said, “was blocked for a very short period of time after being misidentified as a potential spam or malware site. We learn from rare cases such as these to make our systems even better.”
YouTube unblocked the video, but has not released a public statement about the incident.
Some critics have accused Cameron of overreacting. Others claim the complaint was merely a publicity stunt. But considering Facebook’s track record, Cameron had a reason for concern. The social media site has taken down conservative group’s pages and links in the past, sometimes after a flag from an opposing group, other times with no explanation at all. YouTube and Twitter have been caught up in similar controversies. Facebook also has been accused of favoring liberal, pro-gay marriage groups in its past enforcement of anti-hate speech policies.