Tech giant Facebook has lifted restrictions on users praising or searching for the name of Kyle Rittenhouse after he was acquitted of all charges.
The Washington Post reports that Facebook has removed restrictions on users praising or searching the name of Kyle Rittenhouse over ten days since the teenager was acquitted of all charges in the shooting of three people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year during a city-wide riot.
Just days after the shootings on August 25, 2020, Facebook implemented a number of policies preventing users from searching for Rittenhouse by name. Facebook stated at the time that it had removed Rittenhouse’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram as well as “removing praise and support of the shooter” and blocking “searches of his name on our platforms.”
Andy Stone, a spokesman for Facebook’s parent company Meta, commented on the situation, stating: “After the verdict in Kenosha we rolled back the restrictions we had in place that limited search results from returning content related to key terms including Kyle Rittenhouse. While we will still remove content that celebrates the death of the individuals killed in Kenosha, we will no longer remove content containing praise or support of Rittenhouse.”
Stone added that Rittenhouse is now allowed to make accounts on both Facebook and Instagram and will be given the option of restoring his old accounts to creating new ones.
Facebook faced criticism for its handling of the Rittenhouse situation after Facebook’s former Director of Counterterrorism and Dangerous Organizations, Brian Fishman, designated the shooting a “mass murder” in August 2020.
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) said in a statement last month that tech companies “made up their minds on this case months ago, sought to deny Kyle Rittenhouse the presumption of innocence and censored those who disagreed.”
On October 28, Fishman stated that he had “decided to leave Facebook to pursue other opportunities.” Fishman’s last day at the company was November 19, the day that the jury acquitted Rittenhouse of all charges.
Fishman stated via Twitter that he had “relayed a Facebook internal decision using the term of art used by the company” when referring to the shooting as a “mass murder.” Fishman added that the timing of his departure was “entirely coincidental.”