FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
MAY 12, 2020, MICHIGAN: Facebook unilaterally shut down the principal platform for the fastest growing grassroots education and action movement in America currently, eliminating their 386,000 member Facebook group. The group, launched by one Michigan resident a month ago as Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine (MAEQ) in response to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s extended shutdown orders under emergency authority that has since been contested by the Michigan Legislature, was completely removed in its entirety last night by Facebook administrators without comment.
The Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine Facebook has supported citizen rights to free speech under the First Amendment of the United States. The group has not been involved in organizing any events, protests, or rallies but has raised awareness of issues and legislative initiatives in the State of Michigan. Members have posted descriptions of their own experiences and how they have been personally impacted by Governor Whitmer’s stay-at-home lockdown orders. Volunteers have actively monitored over 14 million posts in the past four weeks to prevent the attempts of trolls to post hate speech or incitements to violence.
Dr. Garrett Soldano, a Michigan chiropractor, launched the group on Thursday, April 9thand the group grew organically to 500 members overnight. Within 48 hours, the Facebook group experienced a meteoric rise to 100,000 then doubled to 232,000 by April 12th, and was still experiencing unmitigated growth to 300,000 by April 13th, reaching nearly a third of a million members in just four days.
Suddenly, the daily growth numbers grew inexplicably lower. Dr. Soldano suspected the group was being artificially restrained by Facebook censorship. The stunning growth trickled down to only 1,500-2,000 members/day before it topped off at 386,227 before being shut down last night.
Soldano explains his motivations for launching the Facebook page as coming from the frustration he felt many other Michigan citizens were feeling. “For so long I stayed in the shadows, afraid of speaking out against what I now realize was the slow decay of our sacred values, citizen rights and Constitutional freedoms. I thought I was only a part of the few and I was afraid of the social backlash I would receive. On April 9th, that all changed. When Governor Whitmer laid down her tyrannical fist and stripped us of our citizen rights, sacred values and constitutional freedoms I could and would not remain silent anymore.”
On the first night of the first Facebook group posting, Kevin Skinner, a young long-bearded entrepreneur in Grand Rapids, Michigan saw the Facebook group page and joined with the same concerns coming alongside Soldano in bringing his voice to their daily livestream sessions, interacting with their growing base of members. He became known as co-founder of the group page.
During one of the livestream sessions that was focused on engaging members in the legislative process, MAEQ co-founder Skinner provided publicly available phone numbers of Michigan legislators. His Facebook livestream session was abruptly disrupted by a Facebook administrative action and his account was subsequently suspended as a result.
MAEQ Co-founder Garret Soldano posted a broadcast with 54,000 views on his post of a livestream on site covering breaking news of 77 year old barber Karl Manke in Owosso, Michigan, who has been featured in the spotlight of national news opening up his barbershop despite Governor Whitmer’s attempts to close his shop. Garret Soldano’s post was removed by Facebook for what they described as “violating community standards” but without providing any specific details of the apparently arbitrary action.
When the entire MAEQ Facebook was suddenly deleted, along with the entire history of over 14 million posts removed from access, it prevented any recourse of action or access to evidence to challenge the unilateral decision made by Facebook. Facebook has a history of removing posts and removing access to those posts, thus blocking the users ability to identify or challenge the purported infraction to community standards.
“It is sobering to see the unilateral power that a private social media juggernaut has over citizens in taking away their rights for free speech and assembly,” stated Soldano. “Equally shocking is the lack of due process or recourse for private individuals.”
The grassroots movement of 386,000 followers has incorporated and formed a pending non-profit organization, known as Stand Up Michigan Inc. They are launching their organizational website this evening – www.standupmichigan.com. The vision of Stand Up Michigan is to reclaim and defend the rights and liberties of We the People of Michigan. Their mission is to educate, equip and empower “We The People” to stand up for sacred values, citizen rights and constitutional freedoms. Stand Up Michigan states it is dedicated to serving members by identifying with their stories, informing citizens by providing reliable information, and activating people by empowering them to act with informed understanding of their Constitutional rights and responsibilities.
Zuckerberg has previously made statements that Facebook would likely shut down any Facebook group that organizes in opposition to the COVID-19 shutdown or executive orders issued by Governors. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has testified before United States Congressional committees repeatedly and has been scrutinized for unethical and questionable business practices in the United States and abroad. In July of last year, Facebook was charged with a record-breaking $5 million fine by the Federal Trade Commission for violating consumer privacy rights after a year-long investigation by the FTC.
Facebook actively pursues lawmakers and regulators in Washington with it’s aggressive lobbying efforts spending over $12.3 million last year alone to influence policy and protect it’s growing interests. Grassroots organizations like Stand Up Michigan are often at a funding disadvantage and rely on the strength of We The People.
For more information contact Dr. Garrett Soldano at (269) 615-8020.