After spreading misinformation and leading a harassment campaign against Boston Children’s Hospital, Libs of TikTok was banned by Facebook for less than 24 hours.
The ban was issued several days after the influential right-wing social media account, which operates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, took to Twitter to falsely accuse Boston Children’s Hospital of “offering ‘gender-affirming hysterectomies’ for young girls.” That claim has since been debunked by fact-checking groups, including Politifact, and the hospital announced on August 16 that its staff has been facing violent threats and harassment as a result.
Just 24 hours after hospital staff went public with the harassment they faced, Libs of TikTok founder Chaya Raichik tweeted that Facebook had banned the page.
“They suspended our account and we immediately appealed,” tweeted Raichik, a Brooklyn, New York, real estate broker. “Within 2 minutes they answered that we’re suspended for good. I’m sure we totally got a full and fair review.”
Subsequent tweets claimed that Libs of TikTok’s Facebook page was back online, but that she was still locked out.
Advocacy groups initially applauded Facebook’s decision to ban the page, calling on other social media companies to take action against Libs of TikTok.
“Now, Twitter has a responsibility to act before the dangerous threats against the providers and patients at Boston Children’s Hospital, or any of the number of hospitals targeted by Libs of TikTok, manifest into actual violence,” Mia Gingerich, an LGBTQ2S+ researcher for the left-leaning nonprofit organization Media Matters, told Xtra in a written statement.
According to Media Matters, Raichik named Boston Children’s Hospital at least seven times in tweets sent between August 11 and 15, often tagging the hospital directly. She doubled down on her claims even after death threats were reportedly made against hospital staff.
The Facebook ban was short-lived, however: the page was publishing again less than 24 hours after the initial ban. The Twitter account from which the false claim was originally made remained active throughout the ordeal.
This is only the most recent controversy involving Libs of TikTok, which has previously been suspended by Twitter and Instagram over its history of directing harassment at LGBTQ2S+ people. In April, Media Matters estimated that more than 200 individuals, schools and districts had been singled out by Libs of TikTok, and the account’s posts have resulted in several queer teachers being harassed, fired from their jobs or resigning from their positions.
Earlier this month, a Wisconsin school reportedly received bomb threats after Libs of TikTok posted that administrators were conducting a Title IX investigation over a trans student being misgendered. The school was forced to temporarily shut down as a result.
According to Media Matters, the account frequently likens queer and trans people to child abusers by misappropriating the word “groomer.” Those accusations have led to real-world clashes, such as the arrest of 31 white nationalists in June who planned to besiege Coeur d’Alene’s Pride festival after it was singled out by Libs of TikTok for weeks.
Libs of TikTok has also played a key role in spreading homophobic vitriol across the internet. The prevalence of anti-LGBTQ2S+ grooming narratives has surged by 406 percent since March, according to a recent study from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH).
“Online hate and lies reflect and reinforce offline violence and hate,” CCDH CEO Imran Ahmed said in a press release accompanying the report. “The normalization of anti-LGBTQ2S+ narratives in digital spaces puts LGBTQ2S+ people in danger.”
Facebook has yet to comment publicly on the reinstatement of Libs of TikTok’s posting privileges. The account currently boasts over 42,000 followers on the platform, as well as 1.3 million followers on Twitter and more than 237,000 and 42,000 followers on Instagram and YouTube, respectively.