Last Updated on April 23, 2020
Facebook is trying to prevent in-person gatherings, but there are too many posts to block.
A spokesperson with Facebook had initially said hey received instructions by the state governments advising that in-person gatherings break lockdown and social distancing laws in place as a reaction to the coronavirus, and those events should be removed. Anti-quarantine posts have been removed for protests in California, Nebraska, and New York.
Facebook faces issues enforcing the removal of posts and events that violating social distancing due to to the number of posts being made, and the differences in laws state-by-state.
Anti-quarantine protests being organized through Facebook in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska, are being removed from the platform on the instruction of governments in those three states because it violates stay-at-home orders, Facebook spokesperson @andymstone tells @donie.
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) April 20, 2020
“We [Facebook] reached out to state officials to understand the scope of their orders, not about removing specific protests on Facebook. We remove the posts when gatherings do not follow the health parameters established by the government and are therefore unlawful.”
Officials from both New Jersey and Nebraska have since made statements denying allegations that they reached out to Facebook with the intention of having events removed from the social networking site.
Justin Pinkerman, a spokesperson for the Nebraska governors office says that their office is “not aware of any Facebook events regarding COVID-19 protests, and has not requested Facebook to pull any events down.”
Why is @Facebook colluding with state governments to quash peoples free speech?
Regardless of what you think about the lockdowns or the protests against them, this is a chilling & disturbing government directed shutdown of peoples 1st Amendment rights. Very dangerous! https://t.co/rnG09TSVhI
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 20, 2020
Confusion over the statement made by Facebook was settled on Monday when it was clarified that “events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook,” and the removal of anti-quarantine events wasn’t a request from the state’s government officials.
I'm sure glad Senator Hawley is one of my Senators and he sent Clair packing.
Seems to me this FB action is illegal and may be the straw that breaks the camel's back?
I'll ask @RonColeman, is due process the issue to prosecute here or free speech? Or is there no issue?
— D.C. Bozos® (@536Clowns) April 20, 2020
No legal issue besides the ongoing consumer fraud engaged in by all social media companies. It's otherwise just plain old private censorship
— Ron Coleman (@RonColeman) April 20, 2020
Dear Civil Rights Division of @TheJusticeDept:@Facebook is working hand-in-glove with tyrants in state and local governments to retaliate against Americans who are exercising First Amendment rights, by completely censoring (de-platforming) them.
— 🇺🇸 Mike Davis 🇺🇸 (@mrddmia) April 20, 2020
Although many Americans do not support the anti-quarantine protestors, the number of protests have been being planned more frequently than can be managed by the team at Facebook who have to navigate the mandates of 42 states’ stay-at-home orders.
These protests are thought to be influenced by President Donald Trump’s urgency in reopening the economy by ending strict social distancing.