Trump Jr., GOP senator lash out at Facebook for taking down protest pages on stay-at-home orders

Donald Trump Jr.Don John TrumpSouth Dakota governor flew with Trump on Air Force One after being exposed to coronavirus: report Gianforte halts in-person campaigning after wife, running mate attend event with Guilfoyle Trump Jr. knocks CNN's Chris Cuomo over interview with father: 'I'm not pretending to be a journalist' MORE and Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyOvernight Defense: House Dems offer M for Army to rename bases | Bill takes aim at money for Trump's border wall | Suspect in custody after shooting at Marine training facility  Should the United States withdraw from the WTO? Defense spending bill includes M for Army to change Confederate base names MORE (R-Mo.), two frequent critics of Silicon Valley, hit Facebook on Monday for taking down the event pages of some demonstrations organized against coronavirus stay-at-home orders.

A spokesperson for the social media giant told The Hill on Monday that it removed pages for protests in California, New Jersey and Nebraska after confirming with state governments that they would break social distancing rules.

"We reached out to state officials to understand the scope of their orders, not about removing specific protests on Facebook," the spokesperson said. "We remove the posts when gatherings do not follow the health parameters established by the government and are therefore unlawful."

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There have in recent weeks been several protests against measures taken by states to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Those protests have largely used Facebook as an organizing hub. Many of the events are still up on the platform, including ones that tell protesters to stay in their cars in order to maintain social distancing.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Tucker Carlson ratchets up criticism of Duckworth, calls her a 'coward' Trump on Confederate flag: 'It's freedom of speech' MORE has publicly backed the demonstrations, posting a series of tweets last week calling to "LIBERATE" states where protests were occurring.

Other conservative figures have hit Facebook for taking down some of the pages.

"Why is @Facebook colluding with state governments to quash peoples free speech?" Trump Jr., the president’s son, tweeted. 

"Regardless of what you think about the lockdowns or the protests against them, this is a chilling & disturbing government directed shutdown of peoples 1st Amendment rights. Very dangerous!" he added.

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Hawley, an outspoken critic of Big Tech, quote-tweeted news of the removals and wrote, "Because free speech is now illegal America?"

Some polling suggests broad opposition to the protests.

Sixty percent of respondents to a YouGov-Yahoo News survey conducted between April 17 and April 19 opposed the protests, compared with 22 percent in favor. Among Republicans, 47 percent opposed the demonstrations, compared with 36 percent supporting them.

Multiple reports have also found that several of the pages organizing the events are run by the same conservative activists who have a history of creating pages stoking pro-gun and anti-abortion sentiments.