Facebook removes Kenosha militia page following deadly shooting

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Georgetown University in a ‘Conversation on Free Expression” in Washington, DC on October 17, 2019.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

Facebook on Wednesday said it removed the Facebook page and for a militia group in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after a gunman killed two people Tuesday night during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man. It also took down the group’s Facebook listing for an event called “Armed Citizens to Protect our Lives and Property,” which had been shared by InfoWars, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Additionally, the company said it removed the Facebook and Instagram accounts of the alleged shooter, a 17-year-old who was arrested on Wednesday. Facebook has designated the killing as a mass murder, and it will remove content that praises, supports or represents the shooting or the shooter, the company said.  

“We’ve designated this shooting as a mass murder and have removed the shooter’s accounts from Facebook and Instagram,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement. “At this time, we have not found evidence on Facebook that suggests the shooter followed the Kenosha Guard Page or that he was invited on the Event Page they organized. However, the Kenosha Guard Page and their Event Page violated our new policy addressing militia organizations and have been removed on that basis.”

Although Facebook says it found no ties between the shooter and the militia group’s Facebook page, the company said it chose to remove the militia group because it was in violation of a new policy rolled out by the company last week. That policy prohibits groups and movements from organizing on Facebook’s platforms if they celebrate violent acts, have shown they have weapons, and suggest that they will use them.

Prior to the deadly shooting, two users warned Facebook about the militia group, according to The Verge. Two users reported the group’s account, but Facebook moderators reportedly told them that the group and the event did not violate Facebook’s policies.

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