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With the Trump administration openly supporting anti-social distancing demonstrations, Facebook has decided to act.
One of the more visceral reactions to the coronavirus pandemic (except for the White House-endorsed scheme to inject bleach) is the public demonstrations to social distancing. Some Americans have marched on their local government (some armed), demanding the jobs of the government representatives that asked them to listen.
In April, a protest dubbed “Operation Gridlock” encouraged citizens to show up and cause traffic jams, honk and bring signs to display from their cars. The situation quickly descended to farce, as assault rifles accompanied Confederate flags and chants to “lock-up” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmore who said that “…there’s nobody who’d rather be able to push a button and just return to life as normal…but no button exists in this environment.”
— Adam (@yaboy_adam) April 26, 2020
However, with an official rebuke not forthcoming (after all, Donald calling out his voter base in an election year is something even he grasps), Facebook has taken the lead, squatting the event pages for upcoming anti-stay-at-home protests in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska. Interestingly, Facebook’s swing of the ban-hammer came at the request of state officials, citing that the protests would certainly break
“Unless the government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organised on Facebook. For this same reason, events that defy the government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson told Politico.
According to The Washington Post, a trio of gun rights activist brothers in Minnesota created a number of popular groups fighting stay-at-home measures on Facebook, including in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, 58% of voters were more worried that lifting restrictions would lead to more COVID-19 deaths than they were about continued stay-at-home orders harming the economy. Democrats overwhelmingly favoured continuing restrictions, while Republicans were more evenly split: 48% were worried more about the economy, while 39% worried more about the ‘health dangers of premature liberalisation’.