Facebook is reportedly nixing posts promoting a series of anti-lockdown events in California, New Jersey and elsewhere after talking to government officials about whether such events violate their respective state’s laws.
The company is waiting to get the go-ahead to do the same with other events in Pennsylvania and other states, CNN tech reporter Donie O’Sullivan reported in a tweet Monday. Facebook has not yet responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for confirmation.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the move in an interview Monday.
“We do classify that as harmful misinformation and we take that down,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “At the same time, it’s important that people can debate policies so there’s a line on this, you know, more than normal political discourse.”
A representative for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told Fox Business that the office shared a simple statement with Facebook: “The Governor values the First Amendment and asks that protesters practice social distancing by standing at least 6 feet apart.”
Facebook’s decision came after The Washington Post reported Sunday that a handful of pro-gun rights advocates are creating pages promoting events designed to protest the widespread use of stay-at-home orders.
States implemented such policies in March to help slow the spread of coronavirus, which originated in China and is responsible for killing roughly 150,000 people worldwide. The virus found hotspots in New York City, where nearly 20,000 people have died of the infection.
Ben Dorr, an activist representing a Minnesota gun rights’ group, and his siblings, Christopher and Aaron, are responsible for building the pages, according to WaPo’s report Sunday. They collected more than 200,000 members combined as they continue to expand.
The pages are meant to create a grassroots opposition to the economic lockdowns, which are having a devastating impact on the U.S. economy, according to WaPo. More than 22 million Americans filed for unemployment over the past month as the stay-at-home orders take effect.
Facebook initially said it would not remove the groups or events because states did not outlaw such protests.
“Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook. For this same reason, events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook,” Andy Stone, a spokesman for the company, told WaPo Sunday.
Polls show that Americans still overwhelmingly support the measures despite the huge economic pain. Roughly 70% of Republicans say they support the measures, according to an April 8 Quinnipiac poll. Ninety-five percent of Democrats backed such policies, the survey noted.
Conservatives are pointing to Sweden’s choice to avoid such draconian measures as a potential alternative. (RELATED: Sweden Refused To Shut Down Its Economy Over Coronavirus — Is It Working?)
Data on infection rates and deaths show the situation is stabilizing across Sweden, Anders Tegnell, the official responsible for pushing behind Sweden’s lax COVID-19 response, told local media in the country.
“We’re on a sort of plateau,” he told Swedish news agency TT on Sunday.
Sweden is asking citizens to employ social distancing, not gather in large groups, and hand washing, but they are not mandating such measures. Restaurants and most businesses are still open.
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