In an investigation on Monday, Business Insider revealed that quarantine protesters have moved to the alternative social network MeWe to organize. The platform change came after Facebook took down announcements of events that attempted to organize quarantine protests.
As the coronavirus outbreak has continued to spread across the country, social distancing measures have remained in place in most states. Many people have balked and held protests against shelter-in-place orders. They argue that the coronavirus threat isn't as great as some say and people should be allowed to go back to work.
To organize those events, the groups initially turned to Facebook, where they could quickly alert people of where to go and when to get there. Facebook removed the posts.
"Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook," the social network said at the time. "For this same reason, events that defy government's guidance on social distancing aren't allowed on Facebook."
If you haven't ever heard of MeWe and may be wondering why your marketing department isn't suggesting you advertise on it, that's because the social network is a decidedly different platform than Facebook.
Launched in 2016 by Mark Weinstein with the idea that social networks should give users more and better control over their data, MeWe has amassed eight million users, including some who pay extra for more features, but not always for the right reasons. In addition to acting as a home for anti-quarantine protests, the site has also been a place where conspiracy theorists and groups protesting vaccines congregate. A 2019 article about MeWe in Rolling Stone found that the social network is also home to white supremacist groups, as well as people who share pornographic content.
"The claims made in the Rolling Stone article about MeWe members are false and do not reflect the make-up of MeWe's millions of members," a spokesperson told Inc. "MeWe's CEO published a response, 'Setting The Record Straight: Rolling Stone's Dishonest Hit Job Against MeWe.' MeWe is home to upstanding, diverse members, and has 'open group' communities of all kinds, including those for sports, technology, entertainment, video games, fitness, travel, foodies, politics left and right, and much more."
Now it's apparently home to quarantine protesters trying to organize demonstrations organized around their states. Groups with names like Ohioans Against Excessive Quarantine, Open Texas Now!, and #ReOpenFL are sharing their posts freely.
As for Facebook? The world's largest social network has backed off a bit. While it will still remove content that flies in the face of local regulations, protestors can keep the postings up on the service if they say in their event posts that all participants need to socially distance and follow local procedures.
Needless to say, that's not what the protesters want to hear. And that's why they're flocking to MeWe.
Update at 12:23 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 6 to include MeWe's statement.