Facebook has been on the defensive for the past week over its handling of an event calling for members of a group to arm themselves and attack people protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake. CEO Mark Zuckerberg ultimately apologized for failing to remove the event sooner, saying Facebook took down the event and page that posted it after two protesters were shot and killed in Kenosha.
But according to a new BuzzFeed News report, Facebook didn't take down the event at all — rather, the event was deleted by the organizers of the Kenosha Guard page themselves after the protesters were killed.
That revelation contradicts Zuckerberg's remarks to Facebook staff, which were made public last week. At the time, Zuckerberg said Facebook should have removed the Kenosha Guard event sooner but failed to do so due to an "operational mistake."
The Kenosha Guard event, titled "Armed Citizens to Protect our Lives and Property," received hundreds of RSVPs by the night of Tuesday, Aug. 25 when its gathering was scheduled to occur. The event was reported by users at least 455 times, according to BuzzFeed News, but Facebook moderators allowed it to stay up.
That night, two protesters were shot and killed in Kenosha, and 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was later charged with the shootings. While Rittenhouse is not believed to be affiliated with the Kenosha Guard, the group deleted the Facebook event on Wednesday. Later the same day, Facebook deleted the Kenosha Guard page after The Verge reported on its existence in light of the shootings.
The event itself included posts from organizers and members' comments that explicitly called for violence against protesters, according to screenshots published by BuzzFeed News.
"Counter protest? Nah. I fully plan to kill looters and rioters tonight," one person wrote on the event page. "I have my suppressor on my AR [rifle], these fools won't even know what hit them."
A Facebook spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment. The company told BuzzFeed that its prior statements that it had removed the event page were an "error," adding that Facebook did subsequently remove the Kenosha Guard group that had created the event.
The saga reveals Facebook's struggles enforcing policies meant to curb hate speech and calls for violence. The company recently announced new measures that will purportedly ban groups that "organize violence," but critics say Facebook has been too slow to act, noting that extremist groups have recruited millions of members on its platform.