Facebook Will Remove Content Organizing Protests Against Stay-at-Home Orders, Zuckerberg Says

Posts and pages calling for users to disobey social distancing measures qualify as “harmful misinformation,” exec says

Last Updated: April 20, 2020 @ 8:12 AM

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday said the tech giant is removing posts that look to promote or organize protests against stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19.

Zuckerberg, in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulus on “Good Morning America,” was asked how the company is dealing with Facebook “being used to organize a lot of these protests to defy social distancing guidelines.” Stephanopoulus then asked if this fits Facebook’s “harmful misinformation” designation.

“We do classify that as harmful misinformation and we take that down,” Zuckerberg said. “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. I think a lot of the stuff that people are saying that is false around a health emergency like this can be classified as harmful misinformation.”

A Facebook rep later told CNN’s Donnie O’Sullivan the company has removed content promoting anti-quarantine events in California, New Jersey and Nebraska.

Zuckerberg’s comments follow several real world protests in the last week, including in Michigan and Virginia. They also come after President Trump’s coronavirus task force released a three-pronged plan for reopening the economy last week.

At the same time on Monday, Facebook rolled out an interactive map highlighting users reporting COVID-19 symptoms on a county-by-county basis. The map was created in conjunction with data from Carnegie Mellon University, which recently surveyed more than 1 million Facebook users.

“Facebook is uniquely suited to run these surveys because we serve a global community of billions of people and can do statistically accurate sampling,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.  “We do this in a privacy protective way where only the researchers at Carnegie Mellon see individual survey responses — and Facebook only sees aggregated data.”

Today we're releasing the first maps of the Covid-19 symptoms people have reported experiencing county-by-county across…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, April 20, 2020

Facebook last week also shared it will be alerting users who have interacted with “harmful misinformation” on COVID-19 and directing them to updates from the WHO.

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