- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Facebook reactivated an Illinois group Tuesday night that is opposed to shutdowns imposed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, saying the pages had been ghosted by mistake.

The “Join the Lawsuit against Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker” page, which had been active since May and claims 62,000 members, was shut down in error, according to a company spokesman.

Chicago attorney Laura Grock, who filed a lawsuit against Mr. Pritzker’s response to the coronavirus epidemic, said she was pleased with the page’s restoration but still worried the group’s voice would be silenced again.

Ms. Grock also founded a second Facebook group, promoting an effort to recall Mr. Pritzker, that has seen multiple posts removed by Facebook for alleged violations of standards.

“Of course, since I still don’t understand their ‘standards,’ the afternoon is being devoted to taking down posts on both pages,” she told The Washington Times.

“I went back and looked at all the things they flagged as false,” Ms. Grock said. “At least once, they flagged as false the comments members of the group made to posts and not even the posts themselves.”

For example, Facebook removed a joke meme that depicted former Alaska Republican Gov. Sarah Palin in a bikini, cradling a semi-automatic rifle. The post was claimed to run afoul of “community standards on adult nudity and sexual activity.”

Other posts that traced what a group member considered dubious financing behind Remdesivir, a drug that earned federal approval for fighting COVID-19, were removed because they constituted “misinformation that could cause physical harm,” according to Facebook.

Facebook reinstated the “Join Pritzker Lawsuit” group at a time when social media companies have been accused by conservatives of putting a heavy thumb on the November electoral scale with their content-moderation decisions.

In particular, Facebook and Twitter have been criticized for blocking any links or references to explosive New York Post stories that allege corruption between Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden, his son, Hunter, and companies based in countries for which the elder Mr. Biden served as the Obama administration’s point man.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and other Silicon Valley executives are testifying at a congressional hearing Wednesday.

Ms. Grock said she remains suspicious of Facebook’s motives in shutting down groups critical of a Democratic governor on the eve of the national election, particularly as such groups had operated for months without prior issues.

Group members tend to post on a variety of topics in addition to Illinois politics, such as “mask mandates, COVID-19 statistics and China’s involvement in the pandemic, Tucker Carlson videos, Black Lives Matter protests and police-involved shootings and mail-in ballot voting and election fraud,” Ms. Grock said.

“Given what Facebook has flagged as ‘community standards violations’ and false or partly false news, we will be forced to censor our audience even if their posts warrant discussion or debate,” she said. “These groups receive roughly 1,000 posts a day so we will have to limit or censor freedom of speech and expression.”

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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