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#DeleteFacebook trend after Mark Zuckerberg calls failure to remove Kenosha militia page ‘operational mistake’

Facebook received criticism for allowing self-proclaimed militia groups to organize on the platform, including a group called the Kenosha Guard, which had solicited armed attendees for an event on the night of the protest
Mark Zuckerberg (Getty Images)
Mark Zuckerberg (Getty Images)

In a companywide meeting on Thursday, August 27, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the recent shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin. As per reports, the address was followed by a heated series of questions from employees.

In the wake of the shooting, Facebook has received criticism for allowing self-proclaimed militia groups to organize on the platform, including a group called the Kenosha Guard, which had solicited armed attendees for an event on the night of the protest. As per Verge, several Facebook users reported the event as likely to result in violence in the hours before the shooting. Facebook moderators, however, told them that the group and event were not violating Facebook policy.

In his speech to employees, Zuckerberg said that “a bunch of people” had reported the Kenosha Guard page as potentially inciting violence in advance of the shooting, and admitted that Facebook had made a mistake in keeping the page live. “It was largely an operational mistake,” Zuckerberg said. “It’s because the team that enforces our policy against dangerous organizations is a specialized team that is trained to look for symbolism and innuendo ... and understand the details of how certain militias and conspiracy networks operate.” 

“The contractors and reviewers who the initial complaints were funneled to didn’t pick this up. On second review, doing it more sensitively, the team responsible for dangerous organizations recognized that this violated the policies and we took it down,” he added.

But it seems that the second review took place after the shooting. The Kenosha Guard page and event were removed the following morning. Zuckerberg, however, emphasized that 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who faces charges for allegedly killing Anthony M. Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, had not signed up for the Kenosha Guard event. He said that Facebook’s investigation had not uncovered any evidence that he was connected to the group. He said, “We have our teams out there proactively looking for content and taking down content that praises the shooting. We’re going to continue to enforce our policies and continue evolving the policies.”

Facebook employees, as per reports, were unhappy with Zuckerberg’s answers and asked questions like, “At what point do we take responsibility for enabling hate filled bile to spread across our services?” 

In the aftermath of news reports about Zuckerberg calling it an “operational mistake”, several people on Twitter began to tweet under the hashtag #DeleteFacebook. Though not everyone was on the side of deleting their accounts on the social media platform.

One Twitter user wrote, “I will not #DeleteFacebook yet. The need for factual information in response to the Right's incessant lies is greater there than anywhere. We need progressives perpetuating truth, and by abandoning FB we render ourselves silent/invisible there. We can't afford that before Nov.”


Another suggested, “A lot of people are tweeting #DeleteFacebook - I hate the platform and all it stands for, and came close to doing so last week. But the problem is conservative and far-right are taking over the platform. At least ahead of the election, we need you to stay. Then let's all leave.”


But even with sensible arguments for keeping Facebook, many seemed dissatisfied and furious with the platform. One wrote, “FACT: Zuckerberg, like Trump, is in the business of trading dollars for lives. Zuck's just a bit slicker. F*** Zuck. F*** Trump. Delete Facebook. #DeleteFacebook.”


Another wrote, “Facebook posted a militia group's call to take up arms in Kenosha. Once again, Zuckerberg takes anything that makes a buck route. #DeleteFacebook.”


Another pointed out, “Facebook has been absolute garbage for at least a decade now. Anyone still using Facebook really has no right to complain at this point. Stop enabling this propaganda machine and #DeleteFacebook.”


Many also spoke about their experiences of leaving Facebook. One Twitter user wrote, “It's 4 months since I left Facebook, it meant letting go of my business page that I'd built over years. I have been more focussed and sold more books in that time than ever before. I don't waste energy arguing with negative people, my time is better spent. #DeleteFacebook.”


But Twitter users also pointed out the futility of such an action, if at all it were undertaken. One wrote, “Y’all do realize you’ve been trying to cancel Facebook for years and it ain’t working? Even if you manage to make a dent in their US base, the rest of the world ain’t jumping on the bandwagon. #DeleteFacebook”