Meta has removed teen Kyle Rittenhouse from the blacklist of “dangerous” individuals and organizations. This means he could get his Facebook and Instagram accounts back, and people will be allowed to mention his name.
Rittenhouse was 17 when he was blacklisted by Facebook in August 2020, just days after fatally shooting two people and wounding a third during a night of rioting in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was charged with murder but acquitted on all counts on November 19, as the jury decided he acted in legitimate self-defense.
“After the verdict in Kenosha we rolled back the restrictions we had in place that limited search results from returning content related to key terms including Kyle Rittenhouse,” Meta spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement on Wednesday. “While we will still remove content that celebrates the death of the individuals killed in Kenosha, we will no longer remove content containing praise or support of Rittenhouse.”
Under the policy that designated the August 25, 2020 incident as “mass murder,” any posts expressing “praise and support” for Rittenhouse were considered subject to removal, while searches for his name were disabled on Facebook and Instagram – both owned by the company that recently rebranded itself as Meta.
The policy meant that Rittenhouse was blacklisted as a “dangerous” or “hateful” individual or group, alongside Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and his fascist Italian ally Benito Mussolini, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, to name just a few.
Brian Fishman, the Facebook executive who announced the blacklisting of Rittenhouse, left the company on the day of the Kenosha verdict. He has insisted that the timing was “entirely coincidental” and that he announced his departure at the end of October.