Facebook unblocks Rittenhouse searches
Facebook has confirmed that it has unblocked users from searching for or praising Kyle Rittenhouse on the platform after his acquittal of all charges for fatally shooting two people and injuring one during protests in Kenosha, Wis.
The company had initially blocked any searches for Kyle Rittenhouse’s name in August 2020. Attempts to search for his name would bring up only blank pages.
“After the verdict in Kenosha we rolled back the restrictions we had in place that limited search results from returning content related to key terms including Kyle Rittenhouse,” a spokesperson for parent company Meta said in a statement to The Hill.
Facebook will continue to remove content that violates broader policies, the spokesperson added.
“While we will still remove content that celebrates the death of the individuals killed in Kenosha, we will no longer remove content containing praise or support of Rittenhouse,” the spokesperson added.
The news on the policy reversal was first reported by the BBC.
In addition, Rittenhouse will be allowed to rejoin the platform and can create new accounts or ask for his previously removed accounts to be restored, but will still be subject to their terms of service.
Yesterday we designated the shooting as a mass murder and removed the shooter’s accounts from Facebook & Instagram. Per standard practice in these situations, we are also removing praise and support of the shooter and have also blocked searches of his name on our platforms. 2/n
— Brian Fishman (@brianfishman) August 27, 2020
Fishman said on Twitter on Oct. 28 that he had “decided to leave Facebook to pursue other opportunities.” His last day at the company was Nov. 19, the day the Rittenhouse trial verdict was declared.
The verdict in the Rittenhouse case also garnered Facebook criticism, with many saying that it had overcompensated by moderating Rittenhouse content before the trial took place.
The Meta spokesperson told The Hill that “we previously allowed people to discuss Rittenhouse and the events in Kenosha in a neutral way but removed praise, support and representation.”
Soon after Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a prominent GOP critic of big tech, said in a statement that “Big Tech think they’re above the law.”
“They made up their minds on this case months ago, sought to deny Kyle Rittenhouse the presumption of innocence and censored those who disagreed,” Fox Business reported.
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