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Facebook didn't actually take down the event page for Wisconsin militia

The event was deleted by its organizers before Facebook took any action against the militia.

The loading screen of the Facebook application on a mobile phone is seen in this photo illustration taken in Lavigny May 16, 2012. Facebook Inc increased the size of its initial public offering by almost 25 percent, and could raise as much as $16 billion as strong investor demand for a share of the No.1 social network trumps debate about its long-term potential to make money. Facebook, founded eight years ago by Mark Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room, said on Wednesday it will add about 84 million shares to its IPO, floating about 421 million shares in an offering expected to be priced on Thursday. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud (SWITZERLAND - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY SOCIETY)
Valentin Flauraud / Reuters
Karissa Bell
Karissa Bell|@karissabe|September 3, 2020 3:28 PM

When Facebook said that it had removed a Wisconsin militia group and an event page associated with the organization following a deadly shooting, the company’s explanation wasn’t entirely accurate.

While Facebook did remove the “Kenosha Guard” group from its platform, the event that asked gun owners to demonstrate against the protestors wasn’t actually deleted by the company, BuzzFeed News now reports. According to internal posts on company forums, the “Armed Citizens to Protect our Lives and Property,” event was removed by its creators before Facebook took down the Kenosha Guard group. 

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The company told BuzzFeed News that its initial statement was an “error.” 

Facebook had said at the time that it removed both the group and the event page. The company has been widely criticized for not taking action against the Kenosha Guard group and its event prior to the shooting, despite reports from hundreds of users. Facebook responded to those reports by saying the event didn’t violate its rules. Facebook later admitted that it did.

Mark Zuckerberg told employees it was an “operational mistake, and suggested that the error was because the reports went to reviewers who didn’t have the appropriate training. Facebook had only recently implemented a new rule that banned militia groups from discussing violence.

“It is largely an operational mistake,” Zuckerberg said. “The team that enforces our policy against dangerous orgs is a specialized team… the contractors and reviewers who the initial complaints were funneled to didn’t pick this up.”

BuzzFeed News reports that the event page contained multiple disturbing and violent comments, including one person who said “I fully plan to kill looters and rioters tonight.” Some of these comments were also reported by users.

Update 9/3 6:03pm ET: In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed the event page had been removed by its organizers, not by the company.

“When we responded to questions about our initial investigation into what happened in Kenosha, we believed we'd removed the Event Page for violating our policies,” the spokesperson said. “Our investigation found that while we did remove the Kenosha Guard Page, the event page was removed by the organizer. We apologize for the error."