Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Facebook takes stance against anti-shelter in place COVID-19 protests

Event pages used to organize the protests across the US are being removed.

Coronavirus-tracking apps: Minding the devil and the details

Facebook has removed events created to organize anti-shelter in place and isolation protests across the United States. 

On Monday, the social media giant said some event listings -- dependant on location -- will be banned. Listings have already been removed for protests in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska.

As reported by the BBC, Facebook said events that violate local state guidelines on isolation and shelter in place requirements, designed to slow down the spread of COVID-19, will be removed.  

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

See also: Europol arrests man for coronavirus business email scam peddling masks, sanitizer

Over the past week, demonstrators across areas including Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Texas have brought traffic to a standstill and hundreds of protesters have lined the streets in close proximity to each other, demanding that social and work restrictions be eased. 

Experts have warned that the rallies may result in a second surge of cases. At the time of writing, the United States has reported roughly 787,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are approximately 2.48 million cases worldwide. 

Facebook added that the company is in talks with New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin to ascertain whether or not these events violate state orders, and therefore, should also be removed from the platform. 

Facebook, alongside Google, Twitter, and Amazon, has been fighting a surge of fake coronavirus-related content, as well as product adverts and listings that claim to be cures or preventative. 

CNET: Google blocking 18M malicious coronavirus emails every day

Last week, the company said users that have previously interacted with COVID-19 posts that are inaccurate will now be warned through an alert and will be shown a link to the World Health Organization (WHO)'s fact-checker pages. 

On Monday, Facebook and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers released the first series of heat maps generated from US citizens self-reporting symptoms of COVID-19. The maps are based on data collected from a CMU Delphi Research Center survey shown to and taken by Facebook users from the start of April. 

TechRepublic: Coronavirus: What business pros need to know

In an op-ed published by the Washington Post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said:

"The world has faced pandemics before, but this time we have a new superpower: the ability to gather and share data for good. If we use it responsibly, I'm optimistic that data can help the world respond to this health crisis and get us started on the road to recovery."

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