Facebook removed a group of more than 100,000 people Tuesday evening who were organizing a trucker convoy to Washington, D.C., in protest of vaccine and mask mandates.
The group, “Convoy to D.C. 2022,” gained attention after mass protests in the Canadian capital of Ottawa last weekend, where thousands of truckers from across the country drove to protest the Canadian government’s vaccine mandate for truckers crossing its borders. The group quickly grew to more than 100,000 members and organizers were planning their own convoy before Facebook shut it down.
Facebook shut down the personal accounts of some of the organizers as well. Some of the organizers are longtime truckers and advocates for the industry and have organized protests and political actions previously. A spokesperson for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said the group violated its policies surrounding QAnon. Facebook does not allow the promotion of conspiracy theory, which was labeled in 2020 as a “violence-inducing conspiracy network.”
Mike Landis, one of the group’s organizers, said that while some fringe posts could get by in a group so massive, none of the organizers were involved with QAnon so that should not have led to the closing of their personal accounts in addition to the group.
“None of us, on my personal page there’s nothing,” Landis said. “None of us had any of that stuff. That’s an outright lie … could there have been people that posted something from that in the group possibly? Yeah, because there are so many people posting stuff it was hard to keep up with.”
“So I’m not gonna say that there wasn’t someone that wasn’t even a part of us but just someone that was on the page posted something, that’s possible,” he continued. “But I know as far as myself personally and the other guys, there was nothing.”
Landis and the other organizers have said the event is not only for truckers. They say it’s for all Americans who are opposed to mandates and requirements related to the pandemic. The trucking theme comes not only from inspiration from other protests around the world but from the organizers’ background doing activism in the industry.
“This isn’t about trucking. It just so happens that we have the biggest vehicles on the road that look ominous coming down the road, so that’s why we’re starting it I guess,” Landis continued. “This is about how this stuff affects everybody, all the American people who just want their freedom and their rights back … we have a lot of support from people outside of the trucking community.”