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Facebook Bans Organization of Lockdown Protests Prohibited by Government Order

Facebook Bans Organization of Lockdown Protests Prohibited by Government Order

“Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook”

Lockdown protests are popping up all over the country. Often used as an organizational tool for grassroots activity, Facebook is prohibiting the use of its platform to organize events or get togethers that defy government orders.

That said, not all lockdown protests are disallowed from organizing on Facebook. Only those that directly defy social distancing and shelter in place orders.

Reason has more:

Facebook will remove coronavirus-related misinformation that directly threatens imminent harm, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told ABC News. But contrary to several media reports, Facebook is not taking action against all lockdown protests that are being organized on the site.

“Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook,” a company spokesperson tells Reason. “For this same reason, events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook.”

This is slightly but critically different from what was reported by The Hill, which made it sound like Zuckerberg had endorsed some kind of blanket ban on anti-lockdown activism:

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that protests against stay-at-home orders organized through his social media site qualify as “harmful misinformation” and are taken down.

…At the behest of state governments, Facebook has indeed taken action against some anti-quarantine protests being organized on the site. But that’s because those events were being organized in direct violation of state social distancing dictates, Facebook saysIt matters what each state’s guidance has been, and it matters whether the event in question is urging participants to take appropriate precautions.

That’s markedly different from the idea that all opposition to the lockdowns is being treated as harmful misinformation.

…which is noticeably different from how Politico chose to cover this issue:

I mean…

Anyway, Don Jr. jumped into the story, criticizing Facebook for working with state and local governments:

[Insert diatribe about Facebook being private enterprise than operate as they wish and also the chilling effect of massive speech platforms actively working with the government to quell the right of assembly.]


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2smartforlibs | April 20, 2020 at 7:02 pm

That empty vessel dint have a problem when the left lied about the Russia Hoax.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to 2smartforlibs. | April 20, 2020 at 7:07 pm

    Good reading to go along with this article.

    Kurt Schlichter: They Can’t Stop Us From Reopening the Country

    John Ekdahl has been on a helluva tear on Twitter.

    American Journalists Publish Chinese Propaganda
    · Apr 18, 2020
    Replying to @JohnEkdahl
    35% of all cases in the country are from New York. But hey you in New Mexico, fxxx your local park. Close it. The New York subways? We’re gonna YOLO that sxxx.

    American Journalists Publish Chinese Propaganda
    The center-of-the-universe New Yorker attitude I can handle on an everyday basis. When you start shutting down my life and putting my friends and family out of work and you won’t even close your own virus-spreading hotzone subway? Seriously fxxx off. All of you.

    He wonders why it is that the New York-based media is scolding Floridians for visiting the beaches in small numbers, but yet all of New York City’s parks remain open.

    He wonders why people are being told they can’t drive but New York City’s subway system remains open, each car a contained petri dish. (And note — they only gave out the order to wear a mask on the subway a few days ago!)….

    Ace of Spades

      notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital. | April 20, 2020 at 7:11 pm

      AOC Cheers U.S. Economic Collapse: “Absolutely Love to See It”…

      Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could not contain her glee as the U.S. economic collapse leads to negative oil prices.

      New Jersey Bans Looking At Flowers While Driving – Viewing Flowers from Inside a Vehicle is a Subversive Activity…
      Senate Constructs $500 Billion State Bailout to Fund Coronavirus Lock Down – Irony: Taxpayers Pay for Their Confinement…

      The Last Refuge

healthguyfsu | April 20, 2020 at 7:31 pm

I’ll wait for BLM events that block streets and other public thoroughfares to be banned by facebook.

    Voyager in reply to healthguyfsu. | April 20, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    It has been brought up that both BLM and Antifa have both pretty much evaporated since the Wuhan virus hit mainstream. The theory is, whoever was paying them has stopped for the moment.

      Or their mommies grounded them.

      healthguyfsu in reply to Voyager. | April 21, 2020 at 7:11 pm

      All of these outrage groups, including the eco-cult, are self-aware that they are first world problems with the privilege to be a bunch of outraged brats when the world is in better shape, and they are bored and ready to stir up sh**. Even they have perspective to realize that no one is going to listen to their bratty outrage tactics when real stuff is going down.

Governors have suddenly backed WAY off this and are claiming that they never actually told Facebook to do this.

I’m no expert, but doesn’t this leave Facebook in legal jeopardy?

Does banning them from organizing by claiming that what they’re doing is prohibited by the government, when the government is not actually directing them to do this, actually leave them in potential legal trouble/

    Milhouse in reply to Olinser. | April 21, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    No, why would it? It’s their platform, they can censor it any way they like. Let alone in the reasonable way they seem to be doing it now. Which is quite unlike the very unreasonable things they have done in the recent past, which should be enough to drive us all away from doing business with them.

    And they don’t have to be told by government to do this. Once they are aware that an illegal event is being organized on their platform they pretty much have a duty to shut it down, just as they would have to do if they caught some people using their platform to plan a robbery.

    And by the way, there is no first amendment right to conspire to commit a crime.

      DaveGinOly in reply to Milhouse. | April 22, 2020 at 1:11 am

      But unconstitutional diktats are “void from inception,” and “(w)here rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rulemaking or legislation which would abrogate them.” So there are no such laws to disobey, therefore the activities aren’t illegal.

        Milhouse in reply to DaveGinOly. | April 22, 2020 at 4:52 am

        There’s nothing unconstitutional about these quarantine orders. So long as they’re applied equally to everyone there is no exemption just because you’re protesting something.

Facebook isn’t in the clear here. Judging what is and what isn’t “safe” is way above Zuckerberg’s pay grade. Even if he thinks it’s “harmful misinformation.”

Discussing a protest, propagandizing and advertising it, organizing it, scheduling it, blah blah . . . all free speech, and therefore protected. As they should be.

Now if the protest itself—quite distinct from discussing or planning it—is illegal, that’s a matter for law enforcement. Still above Zuckerberg’s pay grade.

Much of leftist activism hinges on an inability to distinguish between thoughts, words, and actions. They’re really not the same, and they can’t be covered by the same rubber-stamp responses.

    DSHornet in reply to tom_swift. | April 21, 2020 at 10:02 am

    If Farcebook wants to ban the organizers of protests against local and state laws (or rules) in the 2020’s, does this also mean they would have banned MLK organizing a march/demonstration/protest against local and state laws (or rules) in the 1960’s?

    Sauce for the goose and the gander, etc.

Herr Zuckerberg has found his calling, as a low rent acolyte of Reichsminister Goebbels.

BierceAmbrose | April 20, 2020 at 10:00 pm

As a “common carrier” they aren’t liable for content on their “platform”, but can’t restrict by viewpoint or affiliation, either.

One wonders what being an enthusiastic lap dog — I mean “agent” — of the government counts as, viewpoint wise?

    Milhouse in reply to BierceAmbrose. | April 21, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    As a “common carrier” they aren’t liable for content on their “platform”, but can’t restrict by viewpoint or affiliation, either.

    That’s not true. They are not a common carrier. They’re an interactive computer service, and are therefore not liable for user-posted content, but can moderate it by removing anything they find offensive. The category was created specifically to allow forums like this very comment section we are using to exist.

    Governments must be viewpoint-neutral, even when they need not be content-neutral. Private entities are not bound by the first amendment, and no law requires them to act as if they were. The main reason they should anyway is so as not to drive customers away, but apparently enough people will stay with them through any abuse, so they don’t care.

      BierceAmbrose in reply to Milhouse. | April 22, 2020 at 3:33 pm

      “The category was created specifically to allow forums like this very comment section we are using to exist.”

      The Zuck certainly does choose whatever interpretation is convenient for him at the moment, doesn’t he?

      When he’s not failing a Turing test on national TV, that is. (With apologies to Scott Adams. That one is too hilarious not to use every chance you get.)

      BierceAmbrose in reply to Milhouse. | April 22, 2020 at 3:51 pm

      More granular reply…

      “There’s a separate category for which this is fine.” is one interpretation of a subject not nearly so settled … is my point.

      Depending on who’s talking and when The Zuck’s monster creation has variously been called a “common carrier”, as analogy, as assertion of category based on behavior, and as legal definition. His own spokesbots have repeatedly used the utility analogy in justifying … always further encroachement; never responsibilites. (Isn’t that conveeeeeenient.)

      Up for ranges of debate are at least: the existence of that separate category, “creating” a category (and by who, and how, and how far that extends), what that category is, what operating within it means, whether that distinction is working as intended to our benefit or both, and whether any of this is something we want to continue, or maybe change.

      Aside for that, the science is settled.

      It’s useful to deal in granular specifics sorting this kind of thing out. If you wanna make an argument: “Section whatever, of law whichever, says what it says, which means…” say that. Even if it holds up as “black letter law”, which is plenty disagreed with in US federal regulation of commercial data and information services, the intent, value, or continuation of whatever it says are separate questions.

      I reject the equivalency between this coment setion and The Zuck’s behemoth’s political viewpoint de-platforming, and whether allowing the one must also allow the other. I also question whether this behavior violates that “platform’s” service contract, de facto, as understood by customers, as written, or as required to remain within that special category.

      The Spice will *not* flow … er, the science is *not* so settled. So, make a granular, precise claim. It might hold up.

      There’s also crappy, opaque, agenda-aligned behavior by FaceSpace (also AmaTwitGoog, and what’s the other one … MicroFruit?) And maybe info-behemouths are different in kind from other, and / or prior entities. I note that speech regulation is different in kind from economic n production regulations, is different in kind financial regultion, is different in kind from regulation impinging on notional intrinsic, bodily, dare I say “natural” rights.

      Having acted like they are, been used and referred to as, and variously themselves claimed to be a common carrier or equivalent, I’m perfectly supported swiping at Zuckerberg’s Moster in terms of being a “common carrier”, at least by analogy, and arguably way, way (way) more strongly.

        BierceAmbrose in reply to BierceAmbrose. | April 22, 2020 at 3:53 pm

        Boiling all that down, response by battalions of straw men by inference contributes to global warming when they go up in flames.

        See also Motte and Bailey arguments.

BierceAmbrose | April 20, 2020 at 10:08 pm

I never did understand the attraction of curated feeds from n via “social media” “platforms.”

The curation I’m interested in is descritpion, recommendation, or endorsement from people I know. I am less interested in FaceSpace’s opaque “curation”, except for the certainty it’s driven to increse abstract “participation” numbers driving his net worth.

Stuff chosen for The Zuck’s enrichment isn’t chosen for mine.

{From an early age I have had the habit of reading books’ bibilographies then pursuing interesting looking, frequent references. It’s one way into The Great Conversation. Also, meets the curation & etc. heuristic — authors of good stuff are people I “know” in some sense, and can leverage their curation to find more stuff interesting to me.)

BierceAmbrose | April 20, 2020 at 10:11 pm

Well, some governors and their cheerleaders are quite excited about “protests” being “non-essential.”

Of course, they have that exactly backwards.

— We engage government to secure things for us more conveniently; things like COVID19-free places where we can do what we want. That this particular pandemic got this far, and remains so, simply stacks more failures on their prior.

— Their job isn’t to tell us what to do; it’s to do things we want for us.

— Telling the govt they’re screwing up when they’re not listening is the most essential thing, not the least.

A protest wouldn’t be necessary if govt were listening; so if they complain, that’s the point, isn’t it?

So if face-book is an online community and Skokie Illinois is a community then ……um since both are communities shouldn’t both communities be held to the same standards as to whom they must allow into the community?

Zuck can always drop the we are a community, and a better, more virtuous community act, but until then….

Seriously I do hope that our legislators will revisit the idea of these platforms being either publishers, in which case they get to decide upon and are responsible for content or they are what these platforms themselves promised they were in the early days; a community bulletin board/space to pontificate discuss/comment etc without restrictions.

This is especially so in light of the fact that our physical public square has been shut down. It’s almost as if our betters in the political/social/elite don’t want us to have input into the governing of our communities, states or nation.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to CommoChief. | April 21, 2020 at 8:37 pm

    “It’s almost as if our betters in the political/social/elite don’t want us to have input into the governing of our communities, states or nation.”

    Oh, they’re past that, on to dissolving the people and establishing another, as the used-to-be-a joke goes.

    Milhouse in reply to CommoChief. | April 21, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    Skokie isn’t a community, it’s a municipality, i.e. a government entity. Communities are by definition private entities, and they can indeed restrict admission on almost any grounds. Including the one that businesses cannot use, such as race, sex, etc.

    That’s how restricted social clubs existed until recently, and some still exist; they’ve mostly disappeared not because they’re illegal but because fewer people want to join them, and those that do want to are publicly shamed out of it.

      BierceAmbrose in reply to Milhouse. | April 22, 2020 at 3:57 pm

      Ooooh … pick the interpretation that supports where I want to end up. Can I play?

      “Skokie isn’t a community” (although “Skokie” is *also* a comunity among other things)

      I choose to understand ZuckBook as a standard corporation, specifically a publisher, so it is, in fact liable for the stuff it carries.

      Or maybe I choose to understand FaceBerg as a utility, so it may not engage in viewpoint discrimination.

      Or both, so they’re wrong if they content-ban based on governemnt complaints, or if they don’t. I got a 2-fer. What do I win?

      BierceAmbrose in reply to Milhouse. | April 22, 2020 at 4:03 pm

      “…a government entity.”(*)

      So if The Great Not A Commons has a known policy — he did proclaim it, of removing activity organizing particular political speech *IF GOVERNMENTS COMPLAIN*, is the government complaining, knowing that,

      — Restraint of speech?
      — Restraing of political speech?
      — Viewpoint-based restraint of political speech?

      Knowing what the Zuck’s gonna do, govt whining about “those people” seems pretty darn close to suppressing political speech.

      At the least those communications are government records, subject to retention and monitoring. Shouldn’t be a problem: YouAreTheProductCo’s model is indeed collecting n keeping every factoid about everybody who touches it.

I dumped that sleaze site years ago. Wish I’d never gotten on to it. Told my friends to call or email me but that I’d be damned if I was going to pay any attention to walls or games.

    Milhouse in reply to 4fun. | April 21, 2020 at 9:44 pm

    I need an account only because there are some people who insist on using it to contact me, and because people email me links to interesting articles and videos that are posted there. And because occasionally I have to post something for work purposes, to see that it posts properly before sending it out. But I have my privacy settings set so that my posts are visible only to me. And I never look at my “wall”, so I have no idea what’s on it.

Comanche Voter | April 21, 2020 at 12:49 am

Little fascist shmuck.

Why does ANYONE waste their time on this fascist website?

Farcebook can be a convenient way to distribute information about high school classmates, family reunions, and other super large bulletin board activities. But I don’t spend nearly as much time there as in the past. It’s not worth putting up with all the screeching and screaming, unless you enjoy rattling the cage of some brainless leftist who has no ability to actually discuss an issue. That’s when it can be amusing.

Anybody watched the Dry Bar Comedy routines? There’s a rare jewel in the pile of offal.

nordic_prince | April 21, 2020 at 10:24 am

“…events that defy government’s guidance…”

WTH? Last I checked, “guidance” is like “recommendation” – nice, perhaps, but far from “mandatory” or “required.”

How do you “defy” something that is merely “guidance”? Ignore, yes, dismiss, yes, but “defy”?

We are not children who need “guidance.”

    BierceAmbrose in reply to nordic_prince. | April 21, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    Oh, they want the freedom of providing “guidance” with the authoritah of acutal laws or enforcement. Like federally laws, recommendations, interpretations, or even a “dear colleague” letter. Not enforcement — just noting that “nice College you have there; would be a shame if anything happened to it.” And not being “enforced” because it’s not a “law”, none of the enactment or due process protocols apply.

    How con-veeeeen-ient.

FortesFortunaJuvat | April 21, 2020 at 10:43 am

There are alternatives to zuckbook. If you’re still on zuckbook, then you’re part of the problem. If you’re an organizer go to another social media site and let people know where you’re at. Organize from there. Guaranteed the site will thank you.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to FortesFortunaJuvat. | April 21, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    And then there’s “Net Neutrality”, a vaguely-defined proposal for content-based traffic shaping.

    How is that “neutral?”

    How is that “neutral” when the foundational protocols under the internet are, in fact, content and origin neutral? (You have to do work to preference one thing or another. And it doesn’t last as they find a work-around.)

    Anybody believe that had “Net Neutrality” been enacted, somehow the promulgaters of WrongThink would be getting throttled? Or that The Zuck is doing this because he’s in some sense in bed with the political overlords, like a good Oligarch should be?

    (Nice content-neutral platform you have there. Would be a shame if you were held accountable for stuff people post there. Might happen — there’s a revision to that part of the telco act in committee right now. BTW, have you seen this protest organizing stuff going on…)

[Insert diatribe about how the Internet consists of more than four web sites and the fact that soi-disant conservatives don’t understand that is why the left is winning the social media war]

No government can prohibit 1A protests against tyranny. None. So Facebook has to allow the posts to remain up.

    FortesFortunaJuvat in reply to Dave. | April 21, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    fb is a business, not a government agency. It has every right to control the content on its platform. If it wishes to delete such content it is wholly within its rights to do so. If it wishes to ban people publishing that content it is wholly within its rights to do so. There are only a few options open to those who object to fb’s actions: 1) stop using fb; 2) start using an alternative; 3) quit using social media completely; 4) sue (good luck with that choice).

      BierceAmbrose in reply to FortesFortunaJuvat. | April 21, 2020 at 9:04 pm

      FB, and the other platforms, casts itself a public utility and neutral service one day, and a publisher and source of content the next.

      Their actual “services” really do divide pretty cleanly between the two. The place for oversight is really: You wanna be a carrier, here are the rules. As typical of the Valley folk, they want the advantages of several alternatives all at once, and don’t see why they have to do more than declare what they are to make it so.

      In general I dislike new law. Too much patronage; too many side-effects; too much opportunity for graft. Even so, I am drifting reluctantly toward some sort of legal limitation on being in several kinds of business at once. Micro$oft demonstrated (continued by Amazon & Google) that as abused as they can be, perhaps anti-monopoly laws & enforcement really is better than the alternative. Similarly I’m coming around on the notion of some kind of “What business are you in?” enforcement.

      Perhaps if you want to be a platform, a publisher, and a content curator, on any given issue you are subject to the *most restrictive* regulation and oversight among the three. Perhaps even the burden is also on you to demonstrate that you are not in some particular kind of business.

      Facebook — so horrible they make a knee-jerk Libertarian advocate for government intervention in the economy.

    Milhouse in reply to Dave. | April 21, 2020 at 9:51 pm

    No government can prohibit 1A protests against tyranny. None.

    Not quite true. No government can prohibit protests because they’re protests. But governments can subject protests to the same, viewpoint-neutral, restrictions on time, place, and manner that apply to all similar gatherings.

    So Facebook has to allow the posts to remain up.

    Facebook, as a private entity, doesn’t have to allow anything. But even if they were a government entity they would not have to allow organizing an illegal event. They would have to allow discussion about such an event, but not anything that directly facilitated it. Imagine that instead of an illegal rally the topic was a robbery; do you think Facebook, once it became aware of it, would have to let people use its platform to conspire to knock over a bank?