Lawsuit: Facebook enabled violence against shooting victims in Kenosha

  • A federal lawsuit alleges Facebook was negligent when it failed to remove an event page encouraging armed vigilantes to attend protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
  • The 39-page complaint notes that the page was full of threats of violence. “I fully plan to kill looters and rioters tonight,” one person wrote. “Use hollow bullets,” posted another. “[T]hey expand on contact.”
  • The lawsuit, filed on behalf of four plaintiffs, including the partner of a man killed at the protests, argues that Facebook essentially enabled right-wing violence.
  • Other named defendants include Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenage vigilante charged with homicide in connection with the shooting of three people.
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A new lawsuit filed by the life partner of a man shot to death during civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, alleges that Facebook enabled paramilitary attacks against those demonstrating against police brutality — and that continued negligence by the company could exacerbate post-election violence.

The federal lawsuit, filed Tuesday and first reported on by the Wisconsin State Journal, also names Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old vigilante charged with homicide in connection with the shooting of three people, as a defendant. Two other individuals associated with right-wing paramilitary organizations, the Kenosha Guard and the Boogaloo Bois, are also named.

An attorney for Rittenhouse did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of four plaintiffs including the partner of the deceased Anthony Huber, charges that Facebook was negligent when it failed to take down an event page posted by the Kenosha Guard calling for people to “take up arms” against “evil thugs” in Kenosha.

The 39-page complaint notes that the page was full of threats of violence. “I fully plan to kill looters and rioters tonight,” one person wrote. “Use hollow bullets,” posted another. “[T]hey expand on contact.”

The page was left up despite Facebook receiving a litany of complaints from concerned users.

“We removed the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and took action against organizations and content related to Kenosha,” a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider. “We have found no evidence that suggests the shooter followed the Kenosha Guard Page or that he was invited to the Event Page they organized.”

Rittenhouse’s mother drove him across state lines to Kenosha, where the lawsuit alleges he operated “under the tactical supervision” of a right-wing extremist member of the Boogaloo Bois; several of the movement’s adherents have been arrested for planning violence against Black Lives Matter protests.

“It was only days after Plaintiffs and protesters were forced to flee in terror and watch their friends and loved ones die that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued a public apology for what he called an ‘operational mistake,'” the lawsuit notes. “[T]his ‘mistake’ empowered right-wing militias to inflict extreme violence and deprive Plaintiffs and protesters of their rights.”

The lawsuit alleges that the social network could exacerbate social unrest in November, noting US President Donald Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the upcoming election.

“This refusal to peacefully leave the White House could easily result in the tools and platform that Facebook continues to provide these armed groups being used to broadcast, promote, and prepare another Call to Arms, but this time in our nation’s capital,” the complaint asserts.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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