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Catholics in the Crosshairs of Big Tech?: Recent Cluster of Cases of De Facto Online Censorship Raises Concerns

Saintly Heart is a small, online Catholic toy shop, which describes the wooden toys and temporary tattoos it sells as a “playful way” for kids to learn about the saints. Clearly, they’re not the type of outfit you’d expect to be selling “products with overtly sexualized positioning.”

Yet according to Instagram, that’s exactly what Saintly Heart did — so much so that owner Maggie Jetty received notice on Jan. 22 that a “tag” to one of her products had been removed from an Instagram post she had made more than a month previously.

The “overtly sexualized” product in question? A wooden figurine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“I was shocked because I’ve never had any issues with Instagram or having a Catholic item on there,” Jetty told the Register, noting the irony that an image of the Patroness of the Unborn was flagged on the day when the Church specifically prays for the legal protection of unborn children.

Jetty immediately followed up with Instagram, submitting a request that the decision be reviewed. But, now, more than three weeks after the fact, she has yet to hear back, describing the Facebook-owned social-media platform’s system for managing complaints as “kind of like a black hole.”

On its own, what happened to Saintly Heart might be easy to dismiss as a “fluke” or a quirk of the algorithms used by social-media platforms to filter out offensive content. After all, Catholic items aren’t the only products that have been mistakenly tagged as “overtly sexualized.” A picture of Walla Walla onions in a wicker basket, for instance, received the same treatment from Facebook’s algorithms in October 2020.

Read more at National Catholic Register

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