Facebook overturned a decision to block searches on its platform for a teenager who was acquitted of killing two people during the riots in Wisconsin.
The company took action shortly after Kyle Rittenhouse’s shooting in August 2020, ensuring that searches of his name would lead to a blank page list.
Facebook confirmed its policy change to the BBC, but declined to comment.
Mr. Rittenhouse, 18, was cleared this month of two counts of murder and one of attempted murder in Kenosha.
In a Twitter thread shortly after the shooting, Facebook’s Brian Fishman, the former director of its Dangerous Individuals and Organizations division, said the company had blocked searches for the teenager’s name.
Yesterday we designated the shooting as a mass murder and removed the killer’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. As a standard practice in these situations, we are also removing praise and support for the shooter and have also blocked searches for their name on our platforms. 2 / no
– Brian Fishman (@brianfishman) August 27, 2020
He also claimed that Facebook was removing praise for Mr. Rittenhouse.
The policy has gone beyond the other big social media platforms.
YouTube, for example, did not have a specific Kyle Rittenhouse policy and only removed content that violated existing rules on the glorification of violence.
Mr. Rittenhouse is considered a patriotic hero by some and a reckless vigilante by others. The line between support and glorification of violence is a difficult judgment for moderators.
In December of last year the BBC found videos on YouTube of people recreating Kyle Rittenhouse shootings at the shooting ranges. The platform removed them, only after they were notified of the videos.
However, YouTube did not remove any other videos glorifying Rittenhouse’s actions. The moderation of Rittenhouse content by YouTube was assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Facebook took a very different approach. He removed Mr. Rittenhouse’s accounts.
Even if people could talk about Mr. Rittenhouse on the platform, a search for his name would have produced a blank page list.
Rittenhouse’s acquittal made Facebook policy difficult to maintain.
The verdict also questioned whether Facebook over-corrected the moderation of Rittenhouse-related content in this way.
- Why does the Kyle Rittenhouse case divide the United States so much?
Many right-wing publications and broadcasters in America have criticized Facebook’s decision to block Rittenhouse’s searches.
The New York Post, for example, said: “Facebook found Kyle Rittenhouse guilty from the start.”
Republican Senator Josh Hawley said after the verdict that Big Tech had “made a decision on this case months ago, tried to deny Kyle Rittenhouse the presumption of innocence and censored those who disagreed.”
Facebook would argue, however, that a tragic act of violence needed a tangible response.
The BBC has learned that Mr. Rittenhouse does not currently have a Facebook or Instagram account.
It’s unclear whether Facebook will stop him from creating one in the future.
Rittenhouse says his case has nothing to do with race
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This Article is Sourced from BBC News. You can check the original article here: Source