Two months ago, Facebook removed a group of a nonprofit volunteer organization and the personal accounts of its administrators. The founder of the group claims Facebook has not responded to multiple appeals to reinstate the pages.
Vinessa Olp founded Oathkeepers Causeplay together with her late son Veron, who was a retired Combat Medic. Oathkeepers Causeplay is a nonprofit volunteer group based in Colorado that “brings smiles to those who need them” in an effort to “make a positive difference in our world” while dressed up as popular movie characters from Disney, Marvel, and DC films.
“We costume for a cause. We’ve seen what those character visits can do for children. We’ve seen what they can do for the parents of those kids,” Olp said, speaking to The Federalist.
However, their noble cause was derailed after Facebook removed their group, and the administrators’ personal accounts back in August. Facebook removed the group at the same time it removed multiple “anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests.” Most of the groups affected were affiliated with QAnon and other conservative groups.
If Facebook took a closer look at Oathkeepers Causeplay, they would have realized that it is “a diverse group of nerds that just want to make smiles for kids.”
“Recently our costuming group got caught up in a Facebook social media sweep. On August 19th, Facebook did a purge of any group or page that was considered a “hate” group. Unfortunately, we were part of that purge. Our name is The OathKeepers Causeplay. Sadly, we share part of our name with another group that is classified as such. Anyone who has worked with us knows that we are not a hate group. We are far from it. The OathKeepers Causeplay was founded in 2015. It was named by our founder’s son Nerov, who believed that people should be held to an oath that is something bigger than themselves,” the website reads.
“We are not associated with anyone. We do not take a political stance,” Olp said. Now we’re being questioned and judged because we were part of an algorithm that nobody thought to look at.”
Olp said that they were removed without warning, and they were not told why they were removed.
“There was no email saying, ‘Hey, you violated anything, and we’re putting you in Facebook jail.’ None of us got an email. None of us got anything.”
The volunteer organization used Facebook to communicate with volunteers and other charities, such as Relay For Life, Walk With Autism, and Children’s Hospital Colorado, about events.
“A lot of these organizations, they just pop a message on Facebook, and now we don’t exist. When they do get ahold of us, now we have to explain what happened, and now they want us to defend ourselves,” Olp said.
The worst part is that their personal accounts were also removed. Memories, contacts, and messages were lost. Olp lost eleven years of her family’s memories, including her late son’s. “his last message was on Messenger, and it is gone without any reason. No warning, no anything.”
Olp and the other group administrators have tried to appeal their case unsuccessfully. They have called, emailed, sent texts on Messenger, and even tweeted. But Facebook is yet to respond. They are also not able to create new accounts.
They tried a petition, but it didn’t work since people are afraid that signing the petition might result in their accounts getting removed in retaliation.
Facebook is yet to comment on this issue.