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Meta reverses policy blocking people from searching for Kyle Rittenhouse on Facebook, Instagram

Business Insider US
Kyle Rittenhouse at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 17, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Sean Krajacic/Pool via Getty Images
  • 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.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has reversed a policy it implemented in August 2020, which blocked people from searching for Kyle Rittenhouse, the BBC reported.

Rittenhouse fatally shot two men and injured a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 25, 2020, amid civil unrest following the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Rittenhouse was characterised by some as a dangerous vigilante 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.

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.

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