Pastor set to hold Facebook accountable for role in defamation case

On Friday, One News Now reported that West Virginia pastor Rich Penkoski is preparing to hold Facebook accountable for allowing an LGBT supporter to stalk, harass and defame him and his family online, using the social media giant.

According to Steve Jordahl, a civil court has already found the woman guilty of defamation.

“This is a woman who claims to be an LGBT supporter who has harassed, stalked, and defamed me and my family on Facebook for well over nine months,” Penkoski told One News Now.

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Jordahl said the woman “questioned the chastity of his wife and the intelligence of his children in vile and crude language – and she accused him of being a pedophile and running a sex-trafficking ring.”

Penkoski reported the posts to Facebook and was told they did not violate the site’s nebulous community standards.

In July, Jordahl reported:

In a call last week to Facebook officials, which OneNewsNow recorded, Penkoski said the troll has ratcheted up the harassment.

“She went on your platform and said that I was a pedophile, a child pornographer, and a sex trafficker,” he told a representative for the social media giant. “She posted a picture of an actual pedophile, not me, and said it was me as an alt-ID.”

The recording was made with Facebook’s permission but OneNewsNow agreed that responses would be on background, meaning the responses can’t be published verbatim.

But OneNewsNow can summarize Facebook’s response: too bad, Preacher.

It seems the social media giant, once dubbed the “world’s most dangerous censor,” allows criminal accusations to be made, Jordahl reported, adding “that it has no way of knowing if the charges are true or not, so technically calling the pastor a pedophile, child pornographer and sex trafficker is permissible.”

“My issue here,” Penkoski said in the recorded call, “is this woman has put me and my family through Hell, on Facebook specifically, and Facebook did nothing. Nothing.”

And that decision could cost the company, if Penkoski has his way.

Meanwhile, moderators at the site have clamped down on Penkoski.

“I got banned for sharing a picture of angels with wings. I got banned for sharing a Fox News article. I got banned for sharing a screenshot of somebody telling me to go kill myself. The guy who sent that to me didn’t get banned – I got banned,” he said.

“They have two sets of standards – one for Christians and conservatives and one for liberals. Liberals can say whatever they want even if it violates the law,” he added.

Penkoski told the Conservative Firing Line that he’s had enough of the double-standard and intends to file another lawsuit, perhaps this week, naming Facebook as a co-defendant, because, he said, “they’re willingly and knowingly allowing it to happen.”


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Joe Newby

A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe ran for a city council position in Riverside, Calif., in 1991 and managed successful campaigns for the Idaho state legislature. Co-author of "Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad," Joe wrote for Examiner.com from 2010 until it closed in 2016 and his work has been published at Newsbusters, Spokane Faith and Values and other sites. He now runs the Conservative Firing Line.

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