Anti-quarantine protesters are being kicked off Facebook and quickly finding refuge on a site loved by conspiracy theorists
Protests against lockdown orders taking place in several states are being organized in groups and events on Facebook, but the platform has started taking down content that advocates violations of social-distancing guidelines.
Business Insider has found that protesters are moving their organizing efforts to MeWe, a social media platform that says it prides itself on user privacy.
The site's founder says it doesn't accept "lawbreakers and people promoting threats and violence," but Business Insider found more than a dozen examples of popular groups that encouraged breaking state-issued shelter-in-place orders.
MeWe has also faced criticism for hosting those who have been kicked off other networks, like conspiracy theorists and white supremacists.
In groups on the platform, users criticize Facebook's action against protest groups, rally against health experts and state governors, and organize protests with no mention of adhering to social-distancing guidelines.
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Organizers of anti-quarantine protests have been forced to flee Facebook as the platform has cracked down on coronavirus content. Business Insider has found that they're now organizing on another social network — one that's been a refuge for conspiracy theorists and others who have been exiled from mainstream online communities.
Subscription-based social site MeWe has become host to groups with names that are explicit in their members' goals: there's Ohioans Against Excessive Quarantine, Open Texas Now!, and #ReOpenFL, among others. These MeWe groups are iterations of those on Facebook with the same names. But ever since Facebook started to crack down on these organizational efforts and remove some of their content, members have been searching for a way to plan their rallies uninhibited by Facebook's moderators.
While social networks have become a haven for the millions affected by stay-at-home measures, the platforms have also had to grapple with users organizing in-person events and protests that are in direct conflict with health and safety measures in place to curtail the virus's spread.
Facebook now requires all events to explicitly tell attendees to adhere to social distancing guidelines, and has banned groups that encourage users to break state mandates. There are no similar guidelines on MeWe.
More than 20 MeWe groups against state shelter-in-place orders have popped in the last week, Business Insider has found. Inside these groups, members rail against Facebook for censoring their movement and mock the state governors and health experts who talk about the dangers of re-opening the economy too quickly.
And members of these MeWe groups are in recruitment mode, flooding feeds with urgent calls for members to invite everyone they know in anticipation of other platforms taking down protest content.
It's a sign of the...