USA TODAY International Edition

Groups seek Greene’s Facebook ban

Coalition cites ‘ spread of ‘ dangerous lies’ on pages

- Jessica Guynn

A coalition of civil rights, gun control and other advocacy groups is calling on Facebook to permanentl­y remove the campaign and congressio­nal pages of Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Facebook allowed Greene “to exploit their platform to spread dangerous lies and grow her own popularity for years without taking action,” the organizati­ons wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg in a letter shared exclusivel­y with USA TODAY.

Before she was sworn into office, the freshman Republican congresswo­man from Georgia shared debunked conspirato­rial beliefs on social media including that the Sept. 11 attacks were a hoax, President Barack Obama, who is Christian, was secretly Muslim, a California wildfire was started by a laser beamed from space and the Parkland and Sandy Hook school shootings were false flag events.

After a report from liberal watchdog Media Matters, Facebook removed some of Greene’s comments for violating its policies.

“We’ve removed content from Representa­tive Taylor Greene that violates our policies and will continue doing so if she posts additional content that breaks our rules,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement. “Our policies prohibitin­g hate speech and inciting violence apply equally to everyone.”

Facebook played a pivotal role in Greene’s rise to power, according to Igor Volsky, director of Guns Down America, one of the 16 organizati­ons including Color of Change, Muslim Advocates and the National Hispanic Media Coalition that signed the letter.

“It became clear to us that her behavior and that her language is incredibly dangerous but I think what we also understood is that it’s not only about her. There are structures in place that allow the kinds of conspiraci­es she spouts, the kinds of lies she spouts to find a really big audience. And a large part of that audience has come through Facebook,” Volsky told USA TODAY.

Greene’s communicat­ions director Nick Dyer accused Democrats of not believing in “free speech.”

“The left wing mob wants to shut down and cancel anyone who doesn’t support their Marxist ideology,” he said in a statement. “Congresswo­man Greene is the biggest threat to their Socialist agenda and that’s exactly why they hate her so much.”

A sharply divided House last week ejected Greene from her two congressio­nal committees over her social media claims, with all but 11 Republican­s voting against the move. Calling it a move by the “cancel culture,” Republican­s countered that one party had no right to forcibly remove a member of the other party from committees without bipartisan consent.

Greene is the first formerly open supporter of QAnon to win a seat in Congress. She continues to push former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.

Last week, Greene said the media distorted her record by taking her posts out of context, but also admitted she naively believed too much of what she read on the internet that played into her deep mistrust of the government.

“The problem with that is I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true and I would ask questions; questions about them and talk about them. And that is absolutely what I regret,” she said. “Because if it weren’t for the Facebook posts and comments that I ‘ liked’ in 2018, I wouldn’t be standing here today and you couldn’t point a finger and accuse me of anything wrong.”

Faced with the loss of her committee assignment­s, Greene disavowed some of her previous incendiary posts on social media in a last- ditch effort to avoid punishment.

She also said school shootings were “absolutely real,” the 2001 terrorist attacks “absolutely happened” and that she no longer believes QAnon conspiracy theories.

“During my campaign, I never said any of these things,” she said. “Since I have been elected for Congress. These were words of the past and these things do not represent me, they do not represent my district, and they do not represent my values.”

Contributi­ng: Ledyard King and Nicholas Wu

 ?? SUSAN WALSH/ AP ?? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R- Ga., last week was stripped of her committee assignment­s over her beliefs shared on social media.
SUSAN WALSH/ AP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R- Ga., last week was stripped of her committee assignment­s over her beliefs shared on social media.

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