Washington, DC — On Tuesday, a teen who answered a call to arms on Facebook from the Kenosha Guard, a militia group, opened fire on a group of protesters and killed two people. At least two people warned Facebook about the militia’s event page before the protest but the company declined to take action. For more than five years, Muslim Advocates has repeatedly warned top Facebook officials, including Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, that the company’s event pages were being used as an organizing tool for hate groups. Despite numerous warnings, Facebook continues to allow militias and hate groups to use the platform’s event pages to organize dangerous hate rallies. The following is a statement from Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates’ special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry:
“Facebook has blood on its hands. For years, Muslim Advocates has repeatedly warned Facebook that its event pages were being used by militias and hate groups to organize violence and threaten people. And for years, Facebook has failed to stop it. The horror in Kenosha shows us the deadly consequences of Facebook’s deliberate inaction.
In 2019, a militia group, the Texas Patriot Network, used a Facebook event page to plan an armed protest at the largest Muslim convention in the country. Despite Mark Zuckerberg’s claim that “we do not allow hate groups on Facebook,” this group has maintained an active Facebook presence. Even worse, this same group had already threatened mass violence at the same convention the prior year.
We had to be lucky enough to find the event page, alert Facebook of its presence, watch the media cover it, escalate the matter to senior officials and then still wait 28 hours before they took it down. That event, that group and that call to arms should never have been on Facebook to begin with, but the company puts the responsibility on victims to anticipate violence against them, search for it and take extraordinary measures to have it removed. To date, Facebook has yet to enact a policy that would stop their event pages from being used as organizing tools for white nationalist, anti-Muslim groups. And, as a result, lives have been lost.
What happened in Kenosha was preventable but Facebook chose to look the other way yet again. Before any more people are threatened by armed bigots and any more lives are lost, Facebook must finally take responsibility for the horror it continues to enable and stop militias and hate groups from using its platforms to organize hate.”