The coronavirus pandemic has been tough on everyone. From lost lives to lost jobs, no one is untouched by this global event. However, there are some people who still haven’t come to terms with the gravity of the situation. Over the last week, groups of anti-quarantine protestors have emerged across the United States.
Obviously, gathering together to protest goes against everything that we should be doing right now to stop the spread of the virus. In an effort to stifle these risky events, Facebook has decided to remove anti-quarantine pages from its site.
Show of Support
Currently, the tiny minority of people protesting the social distancing measures in place to save lives is pretty loud. It can be easy to forget that millions of people are making the sacrifice of staying at home to stop COVID-19. While protestors may be grabbing the headlines, it shouldn’t be that way for long—at least not if Facebook has something to say about it.
According to a report from Politico, Facebook is actively removing anti-quarantine protest pages that seek to draw people out of their homes.
A spokesperson said, “Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook. For this same reason, events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook.”
The idea behind the protests isn’t crazy. People simply want the economy to reopen so that they can return to work. For many, the financial consequences have been devastating. However, as the United States enters its period of peak cases, doing so isn’t practical. Staying in lockdown is the only right answer for the time being. Gathering in large groups to protest isn’t helping anyone.
Drawing the Line
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke with Good Morning America on Monday to delve into the matter further. He noted that pages promoting events that ignore social distancing should be considered harmful misinformation.
Zuck said, “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.”
So far, Facebook has removed anti-quarantine content for events planned in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska. Aside from the latter, these are some of the hardest-hit areas in the United States in terms of COVID-19 cases.
As of now, the social media giant is leaving some protest pages up. It claims that these events adhere to social distancing regulations by calling for protesters to arrive in a drive-thru format or because local orders don’t prohibit such gatherings.
A spokesperson for the company says, “We reached out to state officials to understand the scope of their orders, not about removing specific protests on Facebook. We remove the posts when gatherings do not follow the health parameters established by the government and are therefore unlawful.”
This initiative is part of a wider crackdown on coronavirus misinformation that has been in place since January. For now, the increased effort is a much-needed step in the right direction.