On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Chief Executive, told US senators that a page which posted a “call to arms” during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August had not violated the company’s “call to arms” policy.
Zuckerberg said that “My understanding is that that post did not necessarily violate that call to arms policy at the time,” referring to the Kenosha Guard’s calls for people to “take up arms” and defend the city from “evil thugs.”
Farhana Khera, Muslim Advocates Executive Director, said that Zuckerberg’s testimony directly contradicted what Facebook had told civil rights organizations about how its “call to arms” policy applied to the Kenosha incident.
She said in a statement that “Facebook’s constantly changing explanations of why the policy failed and how it even works adds further evidence that the company isn’t serious about creating policies that will actually protect our safety and security.”
Facebook eventually removed the Kenosha Guard page after the shooting deaths of two people during the protests, saying it violated a separate rule against “militia organizations.” The Kenosha Guard also created a Facebook event and warned police they would be “outnumbered.”
Facebook reportedly received 455 user reports flagging that event, but that content moderators determined it did not violate the company’s policies.
Last year, Facebook’s “call to arms” policy, announced along with a scathing civil rights audit of the company, banned events that support bringing weapons to locations like schools and houses of worship to harass others based on their identity.
A Facebook spokeswoman told Reuters the policy applies to some protests, if they have a high risk for violence, but declined to respond to a question on whether the company had designated Kenosha as high risk.
Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in introducing the policy last year that it barred “posts from people who intend to bring weapons anywhere to intimidate or harass others, or who encourage people to do the same.”