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Facebook removes events that push people to defy social distancing orders

Events that ignore social distancing guidelines are considered harmful misinformation.

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook on Monday confirmed it will remove groups and events that encourage people to defy guidance on social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. The move comes as some Americans are using Facebook to organize protests of business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders intended to slow the spread of the virus. 

In an interview on Good Morning America, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday said events that ignore social distancing guidelines are considered harmful misinformation and will be taken down. 

"It's important that people can debate policies, so there's a line on this, you know, more than normal political discourse," he added. "I think a lot of the stuff that people are saying that is false around a health emergency like this can be classified as harmful misinformation."

Facebook has already reportedly removed content for some anti-quarantine protests planned in California, New Jersey and Nebraska. The social media giant reportedly allowed protests planned in other states to remain because the events didn't violate local orders or organizers called for drive-thru protests that are in line with social distancing recommendations, according to The Washington Post

On Monday, Facebook said that content related to protests can stay up on the social network as long as the people posting it make clear calls for social distancing. Events that call for in-person gatherings that defy health guidance or make other misleading claims related to COVID-19 will be removed. 

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

CNN earlier reported on Facebook's policies related to anti-quarantine protests.

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