Following a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, a Facebook page which called for mass shootings at GOP baseball practices has been deleted.
During a hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee relating to censorship across social media, Matt Gaetz (R-FL) discussed the Facebook page titled “Milkshakes against the Republican Party,” noting that the group regularly called for mass shootings at GOP baseball practices — emulating the attack that saw Steve Scalise (R-LA) and others shot by an anti-Republican activist.
Gaetz showed some of the group’s content to Facebook representative Monika Bickert, asking her if the content posted violated the platform’s community guidelines. At the time Bickert repeatedly stated that the company removes any content that calls for violence but she would have to review the Facebook page to decide whether or not the page should be entirely removed.
The Hill reported that the “Milkshakes against the Republican Party” page has been removed by Facebook. Gaetz commented on the removal stating: “I am glad Facebook swiftly removed this offensive page; while I unconditionally support the First Amendment, inciting violence against others due to their political affiliation is not Constitutionally-protected speech. While removing this page was a small step forward to making Facebook a safer place, bigger questions remain.”
Following this report, Facebook denied that it had removed the page, claiming that the group behind the page remove it themselves.
Gaetz, however, questioned whether Facebook is a content publisher or simply an open forum for debate: “This distinction is not merely academic, as they are governed by different laws and different rules. If Facebook claims to be a neutral forum, it cannot continue to limit conservative content; if Facebook claims to be a publisher, it will lose its legal ‘immunity’ under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.”
He continued, “they simply cannot have it both ways. My colleagues and I on the Judiciary Committee look forward to exploring this important distinction in the future.”
Update — This story has been changed to reflect the fact that Facebook has denied removing the “Milkshakes Against the Republican Party” page from the site, claiming the owner of the page removed it themselves.