Facebook Reportedly Axes Right-Wing Accounts That Talked Bringing Weapons To Protests

The suspensions reportedly came the day after hundreds of employees staged a virtual walkout after Facebook decided not to flag Trump’s posts like Twitter did.

Getty Images

Facebook has shut down accounts this week after some people on the platform associated with white supremacist organizations discussed bringing weapons to protests against police brutality, according to multiple reports. The move comes as Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg have been under scrutiny for taking no action on President’s Trump’s posts, unlike other tech companies including Twitter.

The company reportedly removed accounts associated with far-right groups American Guard and Proud Boys, both of which Facebook reportedly said it already planned on “taking action against.”

After members associated with American Guard had a discussion that involved plans to show up to protests for George Floyd with weapons, Facebook shut them down.

Facebook also took down the accounts linked to Proud Boys, but said it was not because of weapon threats, CNN reported.

Members of Facebook’s staff who combat dangerous organizations on the social network told CNN that they have to take action on organizations planning to incite violence no matter their political affiliation.

While Facebook took down some accounts amid unrest in the country, its employees have recently protested against other decisions made by the company.

On Monday, hundreds of Facebook staff staged a “virtual walkout” for a myriad of reasons, including the company’s inaction against President Trump’s posts.

Last week, Twitter flagged two of Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots — the first time the company had ever fact-checked the president. Two days later, Twitter flagged Trump's post about the protests in Minneapolis, saying it "glorified violence." Facebook did not take action against either post on their own site.

On Facebook’s internal group called Workplace, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, Monika Bickert, explained to employees in a post leaked to The Verge why the company did not take action against Trump’s post about mail-in ballots.

“We reviewed the claim and determined that it doesn’t break our rules against voter interference because it doesn’t mislead people about how they can register to vote or the different ways they can vote,” Bickert wrote.

The Verge reported that the post had more than 700 comments.

The walkout—which was virtual since employees are working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic— included auto-responses in staff emails and digital profiles saying that they’ll be supporting the nationwide protests. Facebook employees also created petitions and posted public complaints because of the company’s inaction against Trump, the New York Times reported.

On Friday, Zuckerberg made a statement on Facebook about the company’s decision to keep Trump’s content on the website, saying he’s been “struggling with how to respond to the President’s tweets and posts all day.”

“Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric,” he wrote. “I know many people are upset that we've left the President's posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies.”

Facebook has been at the center of multiple controversies within the last few years, with issues surrounding privacy and users’ data, along with not taking action on false political advertisements or fact-checking.