Facebook is apparently targeting the clergy. The social media giant began blocking accounts this week of fathers, pastors and reverends who tried to include their titles on their profiles.
At least one local clergyman was caught off guard by the policy.
"I am a deacon," said Bob Heskamp. "I am proud of that and the kind of thing I do for the community."
“Deacon Bob”, as he refers to himself, has been an ordained minister for more than a decade. He said it has become a part of his identity -- even on Facebook.
"There are many people who are looking for some advice," said Heskamp. "And they know, if they start off their search with ‘deacon' or ‘father' or ‘reverend' they should probably have no problem getting ahold of one of us to talk to us. So it's a wonderful evangelizing tool."
But Heskamp was upset to discover that tool has been taken away, to a degree. Yesterday, when he went to log on to the social media site, he was blocked because his user name included the title "Deacon”.
"It kind of takes away from who and what I am," said Heskamp.
So, on Facebook, Deacon Bob Heskamp is now just Bob Heskamp, which saddens him.
"It's not like I am preaching to people and they are stuck listening to it like on church on Sunday," Heskamp noted. “People can choose to read and comment and like what they see or not."
Facebook has long had a policy restricting members from using professional titles, but it seems it was only this week that the company began to truly enforce the policy. Heskamp said several of his friends were also blocked from the site for using religious titles.
"We are all scratching our heads," Heskamp stated. "Because I think it all kind of caught us by surprise."
The move has created a backlash. This week, critics created the Facebook community page, "Tell FB: Allow Catholic Priests to keep the title 'Father' in their FB name." The page had more than more than 11,000 likes at last check.
“I can't help but think this is all about political correctness," said an outraged Heskamp.
Heskamp said he was able to put his Deacon title, in parentheses, beneath his name, but he says, in that format, the word “deacon” is not searchable.
Facebook did not respond to News 9's inquiry in time for this report.