Facebook reverses Kyle Rittenhouse policy

Facebook reverses Kyle Rittenhouse policy

Facebook reverses Kyle Rittenhouse policy

Facebook has reversed a decision to block searches on its platform for a US teenager who was acquitted of killing two people during unrest in Wisconsin.


Searches for Kyle Rittenhouse resulted in a list of blank pages since shortly after the shooting in August 2020.


Facebook said it would “still remove content that celebrates the death of the individuals killed in Kenosha”.


But “we will no longer remove content containing praise or support of Rittenhouse”, a spokesperson said.


Mr Rittenhouse, 18, was cleared this month of two counts of homicide and one of attempted homicide.


In a Twitter thread shortly after the shooting, Facebook’s Brian Fishman, the former director of its Dangerous Individuals and Organizations division, said the company had blocked searches for the teenager’s name.


Yesterday we designated the shooting as a mass murder and removed the shooter’s accounts from Facebook & Instagram. Per standard practice in these situations, we are also removing praise and support of the shooter and have also blocked searches of his name on our platforms. 2/n


— Brian Fishman (@brianfishman) August 27, 2020

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View original tweet on Twitter

He also stated that Facebook was removing praise for Mr Rittenhouse.


The policy went further than other large social media platforms.


YouTube, for example, had no specific Kyle Rittenhouse policy in place, and only removed content that broke existing rules on glorifying violence.


The teenager had admitted to fatally shooting two men and wounding a third during racial unrest in the Wisconsin city of Kenosha last year, but said he was acting in self defence.


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Mr Rittenhouse is considered a patriotic hero by some, and a reckless vigilante by others. The line between support and glorification of violence is a difficult judgement for moderators.


In December last year the BBC found videos on YouTube of people recreating Kyle Rittenhouse’s shooting at gun ranges. The platform removed them only after they were alerted to the videos.