Shortly after Kyle Rittenhouse was charged with murder following the self defense shootings he was ultimately acquitted for, Facebook moved to wipe any positive mention of the teenager from the company’s platforms. This included links to Rittenhouse’s legal fund and the sharing of any evidence that proved his innocence, of which there was an abundance.
In order to do this, Facebook likely exploited a loophole that allowed them to skate around their terms of service and selectively moderate content. Internal documents shared with National File by Facebook whistleblower Ryan Hartwig shine light on these practices.
Hartwig worked on Facebook’s content moderation team while employed at a company called Cognizant from 2018-2020 until he eventually blew the whistle after realizing the platform’s content moderation efforts pushed political agendas and punished those who disagree. Hartwig now says he believes he knows the mechanisms Facebook used to purge all positive mention of Kyle Rittenhouse.
According to Hartwig, Facebook most likely branded the Kenosha shootings as a “mass murder”, then used that designation to purge pro-Rittenhouse content under the company’s “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” policy.
“In an effort to prevent and disrupt real-world harm, we do not allow organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence to have a presence on Facebook,” reads the policy rationale.
Facebook will assess organizations both online and offline in order to gauge the likelihood of groups or individuals causing real world harm. Groups that fall under the dangerous organizations policy include terrorist organizations, “hate organizations”, organized crime syndicates such as drug cartels, and multiple-victim murderers.