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July 19, 2017 (​LifeSiteNews​) – In an inexplicable move, during the past 48 hours Facebook has blocked or removed more than two dozen pages belonging to conservative Catholic organizations and individuals.

As of this writing, most if not all of the pages have been restored, with Facebook citing a “malfunction in the system” as an explanation.

According to Catholic News Agency (CNA/EWTN), a Facebook spokesperson said, “The pages were re-established. The incident was a malfunction of the spam detection mechanism in our platform. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

Most of the blocked pages had from several hundred thousand to six million followers.

The move affected millions of Catholics around the globe, with Spanish-speaking Catholics especially hard hit.

Many LifeSiteNews readers are familiar with Relevant Radio’s executive director, Fr. Francis J. Hoffman, whose Facebook page, Fr. Rocky, boasts more than 3.5 million “likes.”

Also among the blocked English-language pages is Catholic and Proud, which has six million followers.

Catholic News Service (CNS) reported that “of the known affected pages, 21 are based in Brazil and four are English-language pages, with administrators in the U.S. and Africa. Most of the blocked pages had significant followings — between hundreds of thousands and up to six million followers each.”

CNS added, “While it remains unknown why these pages were blocked, some of the page administrators have said they wonder whether they are being censored.”

Breitbart reported that “observers have suggested that the 25 pages are just the tip of the iceberg and actual numbers of blocked Catholic pages could well be in the dozens.”

In a posting yesterday, Fox News’ Todd Starnes, author and host of Fox News & Commentary, asked, “ So why is Facebook purging so many Catholic Facebook pages? Well, no one can seem to get an answer.”

“You might recall that Facebook has a dark history of blocking conservative and Christian pages,” said Starnes, adding that he himself was once “blocked for running afoul of Facebook's community standards.”

Starnes concluded by taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture: “Let's hope people of faith stand alongside the Catholics as they try to persuade Mark Zuckerberg to reinstate their pages — because one day Facebook might shut down the Baptist pages or the Lutheran pages.”

What Facebook has yet to explain is why conservative Catholic pages were the only ones affected by the “glitch.” Some have wondered if this might not have been a glitch at all, but a trial balloon of sorts.

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Doug Mainwaring is a journalist for LifeSiteNews, an author, and a marriage, family and children's rights activist.  He has testified before the United States Congress and state legislative bodies, originated and co-authored amicus briefs for the United States Supreme Court, and has been a guest on numerous TV and radio programs.  Doug and his family live in the Washington, DC suburbs.