Facebook is not allowing anti-quarantine protesters to use the site to organize demonstrations in states that have enacted strict social distancing measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The social media giant has already removed promotions for anti-quarantine events in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska in cooperation with those state governments.
Says it is working to get answers from New York, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as to whether anti-quarantine protests breaks those states' social distancing measures.
— Donie O'Sullivan (@donie) April 20, 2020
“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,” a company spokesperson told the Washington Post on Sunday.
Anti-quarantine protests have popped up all over the nation in recent days in opposition to draconian social distancing measures that are destroying small businesses and leading to massive unemployment. Facebook has become a place where organizers promote these protests.
The platform was reportedly also working with state governments in New York, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to determine whether planned anti-quarantine protests in each of those states break local social distancing measures.
Thousands of protesters in Pennsylvania demonstrated against the governor’s stay-at-home order on the on the steps of the Capitol Monday afternoon.
One America News Network’s Emerald Robinson pushed back against Facebook’s censorship of the protests on Twitter. “Folks, this is how America slides into a Chinese-style tech dictatorship,” she wrote. “Social media platforms now collude openly with state governments to suppress free speech they don’t like.”
Folks, this is how America slides into a Chinese-style tech dictatorship.
Social media platforms now collude openly with state governments to suppress free speech they don’t like.
In other words, we have allowed our states to outsource their censorship needs to Big Tech. https://t.co/bJo0SHsVbi
— Emerald Robinson ✝️ (@EmeraldRobinson) April 20, 2020
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on “Good Morning America” Monday that the platform considers promotions of anti-quarantine protests to be “harmful misinformation” and will “take that down.”
“At the same time, it’s important that people can debate policies, so there’s a line on this,” Zuckerberg told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “But 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.”
However, it is not settled science that extreme social distancing measures actually prevent the virus from spreading.
According to a prominent Israeli mathematician who has studied coronavirus statistics worldwide, policies of lockdowns and closures are unnecessary and the result of “mass hysteria.”
Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel is the head of the Security Studies program in Tel Aviv University and the chairman of the National Council for Research and Development. During a debate on Israel’s Channel 12 last week, he argued that his research shows that “there’s a set pattern” in the growth and decline of new cases in countries around the world and “the numbers speak for themselves.”
According to Ben-Israel’s analysis, “the spread of COVID-19 peaks after about 40 days and declines to almost zero after 70 days — no matter where it strikes, and no matter what measures governments impose to try to thwart it.”
Prof. Gabi Barbash, a hospital director and the former Health Ministry director general, insisted in a bitter TV exchange that Ben-Israel is mistaken, and that the death tolls would have been far higher if Israel and other countries had not taken the steps they did.
But Ben-Israel said the figures — notably from countries, such as Singapore, Taiwan, and Sweden, which did not take such radical measures to shutter their economies — proved his point. (He also released a paper to this effect, with graphs showing the trajectories.)
When Barbash cited New York as ostensible proof that Ben-Israel was mistaken, Ben-Israel noted the latest indications from New York were precisely in line with his statistics that indicate daily new cases figures peaking and starting to fall after about 40 days.
Asked to explain the phenomenon, Ben-Israel, who also heads Israel’s Space Agency, later said: “I have no explanation. There are all kinds of speculations. Maybe it’s related to climate, or the virus has a life-span of its own.”
In Sweden, where schools, gyms, cafes, bars and restaurants were left open throughout the spread of the pandemic, infection rates and fatalities have reportedly stabilized.
Rather than shut their economy down, the Swedish government urged citizens to act responsibly and follow simple social distancing guidelines. Because the spread of virus appears to follow a particular pattern no matter what measures are enforced, their relaxed approach seems to have been sufficient.