Governors: Facebook Contacted Us About Protests, Not Other Way Around

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook speaks at Georgetown
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/Getty

Governors have denied reports that they instructed Facebook to remove pages promoting protests against strict stay-at-home orders, saying that the company reached out to them — not the other way around.

The Nebraska governor’s office told Breitbart News:

The Governor’s Office is not aware of any Facebook events regarding COVID-19 protests, and has not requested Facebook to pull any events down. Facebook reached out last week to learn more about Nebraska’s social distancing restrictions, and the Governor’s staff provided already publicly available information about Nebraska’s ten-person limit and Directed Health Measures.

New Jersey’s governor issued a similar denial: “”The governor’s office did not ask Facebook to remove pages or posts for events promoting lifting the provisions of the governor’s stay-at-home order.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom confirmed in a press conference Monday that the California Highway Patrol had issued a permit for a protest in vehicles that observed “social distancing” requirements. Breitbart News has reached out to Newsom’s office for comment about Facebook’s reported actions.

Earlier Monday, CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy reported that Facebook had taken down pages linked to protests against the “quarantine.” He specifically mentioned California, New Jersey, and Nebraska.

Darcy cited CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan — whose beat is “disinformation, politics, and technology.” O’Sullivan had reported that Facebook had taken down pages promoting protests after “consultation” with state governments:

Politico originally reported: “Facebook shuts down anti-quarantine protests at states’ request.” The article noted: “The world’s largest social network has already removed protest messages in California, New Jersey and Nebraska from its site at the urging of state governments who say those events are prohibited by stay-at-home orders, a [Facebook] spokesperson said” (emphasis added).

A later version of the same Politico article bore the new headline: “Republicans attack Facebook as network shuts down anti-lockdown protests.” The claim that Facebook had acted “at the urging of state governments” had been removed. Instead, Politico reported that a Facebook spokesperson “had been instructed by those state governments that the events are prohibited under the lockdown and social distancing orders that authorities have issued in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Breitbart News had reported: “Mark Zuckerberg: Lockdown Protests Are ‘Misinformation,’ Facebook Will Ban Organizers.”

It cited CNN as reporting that state governments had instructed Facebook to remove protest pages, but focused on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg telling ABC’s Good Morning America that Facebook would shut down the pages as “misinformation.”

Update: A Facebook spokesperson told Breitbart News: “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.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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