Facebook chose not to act on militia complaints before Kenosha shooting

Facebook chose not to act on militia complaints before Kenosha shooting
Image credit to Wikimedia Commons.

Many Facebook users reported the account for instigation of violence. However, Facebook said that the account did not violate Facebook’s policies. 

After the double murder on Tuesday night in Kenosha, Facebook experienced a strong wave of scrutiny when a militia group called Kenosha Guard – a self-proclaimed militia group- reportedly issued the “calls to arms” on the platform in advance of the protest.

On Wednesday morning, Facebook had taken down the Facebook page of Kenosha. The platform identified the militia group’s posts as a violation of the community standards and removed the accounts.

Though the accounts were permanently removed from the social media platform, new evidence suggests that there had been ample warnings regarding the account before the shootings gave prominence to the militia group.

Two separate Facebook users reported the account for instigating violence before the shootings took place in Kenosha.

In every case, the militia group and its counter-protest events were inspected, examined, and witnessed by Facebook moderators. Interestingly, the violent posts were not found to be violating the community standards and social media website’s policies at the time.

One Facebook user who doesn’t want to disclose her name had revealed that she reported the Kenosha Guards event before the protests took place. Facebook moderators had responded to her plea that the events were not violating the platform’s policies, but specific comments would be reported to the authorities. She said that she reported the particular statements to the moderators of Facebook. The comments consisted of the information regarding putting nails into the tires of protester’s cars. However, the said comments were found to be within the boundaries of the platform’s policies.

The female Facebook user also said there were many similar comments in the event and revealed that “people were speaking about the locked and loaded, types of weapons, and responses such as bring everything were being discussed in the event.” However, Facebook moderators did not take a second to notice the severity and the danger that the event posed to the general public.

The same comments cannot be currently verified as the initial event listing is no longer available to the public.

Another Facebook user witness reported the nasty discussions and events to the Facebook authorities yet received the same response – no actions needed to be taken.

Facebook starkly stated that the event did not violate the standards of the community at all.

Both of the above reports were filed on Facebook before the shootings took place. Users revealed that they felt that the discussions could result in violence. Last week, Facebook recognized the militia group as instigating violence and took down several militia pages linked with the QAnon. Till now, it seemed that those warnings were not sufficient for triggering the existing policies of Facebook.

The group communicated and mingled on the social media website’s platform and planned the shootings due to the lax platform policies. It was only on Wednesday morning that Facebook finally recognized and cited the Kenosha Guard as committing violations of its policies. The action came too late, as nine hours had already passed.

The protests wrecked Kenosha for three days, carried out in wake to the police shooting that paralyzed Jacob Blake. Late Tuesday night, two people were reportedly killed by an armed counter-protester during a march who left the scene without being arrested by the police authorities. Kyle Rittenhouse was the anti-protester, recognized through the footage distributed on social media. The anti-protester was charged with double murder by the Illinois police department on a Wednesday afternoon.

Facebook responded that the company made proper investigations on the event to all of the above instances. There was no proper link between Kyle Rittenhouse and the Kenosha Guards accounts.

The accounts of the murderer were then removed from Facebook and Instagram. Furthermore, Facebook said that, “The Kenosha Guards had violated our new policies, that is why their accounts were removed from our website.”