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Lawsuit blames Facebook for Kenosha violence, claims it failed to prevent ‘calls to arms’ from spreading

Lawsuit blames Facebook for Kenosha violence, claims it failed to prevent ‘calls to arms’ from spreading
A lawsuit has been filed against Facebook with the Wisconsin federal court. The social media giant stands accused of enabling the Kenosha shooting by allowing “white supremacists” to “thrive” on its platform.

Facebook has failed to promptly remove the so-called militias “Kenosha Guard” and “Boogaloo Bois” from the social network, the lawsuit filed by four activists, including Hannah Gittings, a partner of Anthony Huber killed in the Kenosha shooting, said. The tech giant allowed the groups to “recruit” new members through violent racist rhetoric and “publicly displayed” a desire to kill Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters, it added.

The incident occurred in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 25 during riots sparked by the earlier police shooting of an African American, Jacob Blake, which left him paralyzed.

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“The enabling and empowering of militias to conspire with its platform and tools allows white supremacist groups to recruit, organize, and thrive, while Facebook continues to profit from their activities, and those who fight for social justice continue to die.”

The tech giant’s inaction allowed the two groups to issue “calls to arms” and summon their followers to Kenosha, where a standoff with the BLM protesters ended with two people fatally shot and one more injured, allegedly by Kyle Rittenhouse, the suit claims.

Facebook did not remove “Kenosha Guard” until after the deadly shooting despite reportedly receiving over 400 complaints over its content. Some media reports suggested that the page was deleted by its moderators and not by the social network’s administration. Later, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg blamed the whole situation on an “operational mistake.”

A spokesperson for the social media giant told US media that it deleted “the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and took action against organizations and content related to Kenosha” while adding that the company “found no evidence that suggests the shooter followed the Kenosha Guard Page or that he was invited to the Event Page they organized.”

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The plaintiffs still demand “an injunction preventing Facebook from violating its own policies that are supposed to prevent violent rhetoric, militia groups, and other racially motivated hate groups from congregating and interacting on its site.”

Apart from Facebook, the lawsuit also names Rittenhouse as well as the self-described “commander” of the Kenosha Guard, Kevin Mathewson, and a member of the Boogaloo Bois, Ryan Balch, who acted as the self-proclaimed militia’s “tactical advisor” during the Kenosha standoff, as defendants.

Rittenhouse’s attorney, Lin Wood, meanwhile, dismissed the whole lawsuit as “nonsense” and even called it a “blessing in disguise.” She argued that it could provide “a golden opportunity” to obtain documents and sworn testimony from Facebook showing that it “falsely” accused her client of mass murder. The evidence might then be used in a defamation case against Facebook, she told BuzzFeed.

The 17-year-old now faces homicide charges. Many in the US have condemned his actions, arguing it was an intentional murder. Wood and Rittenhouse supporters, however, maintain he acted in self-defense.

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