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."