Facebook Allows Livestream of Anti-Muslim Mosque Protest in Milwaukee

Washington, DC — Last Tuesday, a group of anti-Muslim activists used Facebook to livestream a hate rally outside a mosque in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holding a sign that read “Halt Islam,” anti-Muslim street preacher Ruben Israel yelled hateful, threatening slurs targeting Muslims because of their religion from a megaphone outside the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, the largest mosque in the city. Even though Facebook has supposedly instituted rules banning hate speech targeting a person’s religion and limiting the ability of those who violate their policies to use Facebook Live, Ruben Israel and his stream remain on the platform.

After the Christchurch shooter broadcast his deadly rampage on Facebook, the company touted their new rules limiting the livestreaming capabilities of users who break certain rules. Facebook has also touted a policy removing hate speech that targets people because of their religion. But as this latest episode demonstrated, Facebook’s weak response to the Christchurch murders has had little impact on those who are terrorizing Muslims. 

During the protest, Ruben Israel used Facebook to broadcast multiple false, offensive slurs and conspiracies about Muslims, yelling about “wicked, perverted Islam” and asking Muslims in the mosques if they have “anything ticking” on them and whether they had a pilot’s license. He also told a Muslim couple near the mosque, “don’t tell me you’re here getting government assistance while you hate our country.” Despite these clear violations of Facebook’s hate speech and livestreaming policies, Ruben Israel’s Facebook account and post related to the hate rally remain on the platform.

“Thousands of people watched on Facebook as Ruben Israel called Muslims murderers, terrorists and pedophiles because of their religion. Facebook has rules banning hate speech like this but those rules have clearly failed,” said Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates’ special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry. “Hate speech like this leads to threats and hate crimes against Muslims and Facebook continues to enable it. Facebook must explain why their hate speech policies failed and what they will do about this failure and their larger anti-Muslim problem.”

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Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.