Classroom connection: Brothers spur efforts to protest stay-at-home orders
Facebook groups coordinating efforts to protest stay-at-home orders in cities and states across the country have been established in the last week alone. Three brothers who also manage a number of hard-line gun advocacy organizations and websites created at least four of them — targeting New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, The Washington Post reported.
Some of the groups are sharing advice and even Facebook event descriptions with each other as they organize protests against what they consider “excessive” measures undertaken by states to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Protestors held at least 13 demonstrations to “reopen America” in the last week. More are planned in several states this week.
The protests have drawn a significant amount of news coverage. That coverage produced shocking images, including provocative signs, Confederate flags and armed demonstrators. However, much of the coverage noted that these events do not represent the views of most Americans about the pandemic response.
A Facebook spokesman told the Post that the platform had removed promotions of protests in New Jersey and California. The spokesman said that “events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook.” On April 20, a CNN reporter tweeted that Facebook had also removed events in Nebraska and was checking with officials in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin “as to whether anti-quarantine protests breaks those states’ social distancing measures.”
- “Protesting for the Right to Catch the Coronavirus” (Charlie Warzel, The New York Times).
- “What the anti-stay-at-home protests are really about” (Jane Coaston, Vox).
Are these protests newsworthy? Why or why not? Are news organizations giving them too much attention? What could be the inadvertent effects of reporting on movements like these? Are members of this movement exercising their rights or endangering others? Should Facebook take action against the groups where many of these protests are being organized? Why or why not?