- Facebook, now Meta, blocked users from searching for Kyle Rittenhouse or praising him in August 2020.
- The company confirmed to the BBC it has now reversed its policy on searching for Rittenhouse.
- Rittenhouse fatally shot two men and injured a third in August 2020. A jury acquitted him last month.
Rittenhouse was characterised by some as a dangerous vigilante by some and as a hero by others, and Big Tech platforms including Facebook had to grapple with how to moderate discussion of the shooting.
Brian Fishman, Facebook’s head of Dangerous Organizations and Individuals team at the time, tweeted two days later, saying the company had designated the incident as a mass murder and removed the shooter’s (Rittenhouse’s) accounts from Facebook and Instagram.
“Per standard practice in these situations, we are also removing praise and support of the shooter and have also blocked searches of his name on our platforms,” Fishman said.
—Brian Fishman (@brianfishman) August 27, 2020
Rittenhouse stood trial for the shooting where he argued he had acted in self-defense. He was fully acquitted by a jury on November 19, who found him not guilty on five charges, including two counts of first-degree homicide and attempted first-degree homicide.
Facebook confirmed to the BBC that its policy on searching for Rittenhouse had been changed, but did not comment further. It’s not clear exactly when Meta enacted the change, or whether it applies to the part of the policy that banned users from praising Rittenhouse as well.
Meta did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider.