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Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said on Tuesday that Facebook was squelching American free speech rights by removing posts that encouraged defying social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus outbreak.
“This is dumb,” Fleischer responded to “America’s Newsroom” anchor Ed Henry when asked whether Facebook was “cracking down” on free speech with their decision to remove posts related to protesting against social distancing guidelines.
Fleischer said that Facebook is putting itself in an “impossible position when trying to be the arbiter” for these kinds of situations in “a freedom-loving Democratic country.”
Fleischer went on to say, “You don’t do that here. This is the same social media that allows terrorists to continue to post things. Now we are cracking down on Americans' constitutional right to gather...as opposed to some of the things that terrorists are free to post up there? Hate groups are free to post up there?”
Facebook has banned some pages promoting protests of stay-at-home mandates that challenge the government's advice about social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook. For this same reason, events that defy government's guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook," a company representative told Fox News.
Protests have popped up in various states among residents who disagree with certain stay-at-home guidelines. Many of the protests feature large groups of people closely gathered as the nation has been instructed to social distance --which essentially involves staying six feet apart--in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Fleischer said that while Facebook’s move is a “big mistake,” he encourages social distancing during a protest.
“We have a constitutional right to protest.”
Fox News' Brian Flood contributed to this report.