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Facebook is working with state governments to take down anti-quarantine protest event listings

Can they do that?

George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook has coordinated with at least three state governments to remove event listings on its site that promote protests against COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, CNN reported.

As more protests emerge against social distancing policies and stay-at-home orders that have caused economic turmoil and record unemployment, many organizers have used Facebook to create protest groups and promote events.

Facebook spokesman Andy Stone told CNN the site's policy is to remove events that would violate a state's coronavirus policies. Currently, such posts will be removed only for events in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska.

CNN reported that Facebook has also reached out to New York, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to determine whether anti-quarantine events promoted on Facebook violate orders in those states.

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

These protests have been framed in mainstream media with not-so-subtle derision as right-wing demonstrations. The source of the protests, however, is growing concern about elected officials using the emergency to infringe on constitutional rights, as well as frustration that states without severe outbreaks are under the same restrictions as New York, which has been hit hardest by COVID-19.

For example, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) recently smiled during an interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson as he admitted he didn't consider the Bill of Rights when setting policy that led to people being arrested for attending religious gatherings.

Residents in Michigan have grown increasingly frustrated with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) who has implemented COVID-19 measures so strict that it's now illegal for a resident to travel to someone else's home. Whitmer has threatened to extend the lockdown order if people keep gathering to protest.

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