Facebook removing events that defy coronavirus social distancing guidelines

Thousands have participated in 'back-to-work' protests

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Facebook will remove posts and other content that encourage people to gather in defiance of government health guidelines.

"Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook," a Facebook spokesperson said. "For this same reason, events that defy government's guidance on social distancing aren't allowed on Facebook."

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The statement comes as some groups have used Facebook events to organize rallies against shelter-in-place orders.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan reported on Monday that Facebook said it was trying to get answers from New York, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania about planned protests possibly breaking social distancing guidelines. A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of General Services told FOX Business that no communications with Facebook had been receieved or initiated.

Protesters rally at the Tennessee state capitol to speak out against the state's handling of the COVID-19 outbreak Sunday, April 19, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

A spokesperson for the Ohio governor told FOX Business that his office shared the following response with Facebook: "The Governor values the First Amendment and asks that protesters practice social distancing by standing at least 6 feet apart."

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O'Sullivan also reported that Facebook removed anti-quarantine events in New Jersey and Nebraska after consulting with state government.

The New Jersey governor's office did consult with Facebook on the issue but preferred posts not be removed.

“The Governor's Office did not ask Facebook to remove pages or posts for events promoting lifting the provisions of the Governor's stay-at-home order," a governor's office spokesperson told FOX Business. "Please contact Facebook for more information on why they made the decision to remove these posts.”

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A spokesperson for the Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts told FOX Business the governor's office did not ask Facebook to pull any events.

"The Governor's Office is not aware of any Facebook events regarding COVID-19 protests, and has not requested Facebook to pull any events down," the spokesperson said. "Facebook reached out last week to learn more about Nebraska's social distancing restrictions, and the Governor's staff provided already publicly available information about Nebraska's 10-person limit and Directed Health Measures."

The social media giant's decision comes as lockdown protesters throughout the U.S. have gathered in state capitals over the past week. Some demonstrators have ignored social distancing while others remain in their cars to avoid spreading the virus. Photos showed that many #FreeTN rallygoers in Nashville did not stay stay six feet apart on Sunday.

"We encouraged everyone to take precautions. ... We encouraged masks and distancing for those who wanted it, riding in cars for those who wanted it, but we were not going to force anything on anyone," #FreeTN organizer Kimberly Edwards told FOX Business.

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