Facebook has announced that it’s banning promotions for protests that violate social distancing rules. Recent reporting also shows that the social media company has removed promotions for anti-quarantine protests that were planned to take place in New Jersey, California, and Nebraska. Facebook noted that it took this decision after consulting with state governments on the same.
The social media company says that it may remove other promotions for such protests in New York, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio but it’s currently consulting with state governments in those areas before making a final decision. A spokesperson from the company told a major online publication that any events that “defy” the social distance guidelines issued in all states “aren’t allowed on Facebook.”
The company also noted that its decision to remove these promos is entirely determined by the states themselves. If the states deem that such events are in violation of these social distancing orders, the social media company will have no choice but to remove them.
Speaking during an interview on Morning America, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that, while the company is not in any way curtailing debate regarding these stay-at-home orders, it will take action against any posts deemed to be “harmful misinformation.” After all, the social media giant has been cracking down on COVID-19 related misinformation on its platform in recent weeks.
Over the last few days, protests in several US states have been reported over shelter-in-place orders issued by state governors. According to some of these protesters, most of whom appear to be right-wing conservatives and staunch supporters of the President, the shelter-in-place orders implemented to stop the spread of the coronavirus are “violating” their freedom and as such “they must come to an end.”
Interestingly though, in most of these protests, social distancing rules have not been observed, increasing the risk of possible infections substantially. US President Donald Trump also appeared to fuel the protest in a series of tweets. Trump wrote “Liberate Minnesota”, “Liberate Virginia”, and “Liberate Michigan”, states which have Democratic governors.
The tweets came barely a day after he told reporters during a White House briefing that governors are free to decide when and how to reopen the states. It also looks like the president is inciting rebellion against policies that his own administration recommended to these states.
So far, the US is the hardest-hit country in the world by the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been significant criticism on how the Trump administration responded to this pandemic but the President maintains that his administration has done a pretty good job handling it.
The ongoing protests are however posing major public health risks. They have so far been used as a front to spread misinformation about the virus. One rally, in particular, hosted in Texas by conspiracy theorists Alex Jones, insisted on calling the virus a hoax, despite the fact that nearly 45,000 people have died in the United States alone from it. But it looks like Facebook is doing its part to make this right.