Dozens of organizations wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday to ask him to explain why his company shut down Korryn Gaines' account at the request of police during a standoff between the Randallstown woman and Baltimore County officers.
The coalition of 41 civil rights and consumer advocacy groups also asked the social media giant to clarify its position on working with law enforcement to censor data and video. In addition to the Gaines case, the groups mentioned the death of Philando Castile in Minnesota, where Castile's fiancee live-streamed the aftermath of an officer shooting him in their car.
"In light of these recent events, now is a crucial moment to demonstrate that Facebook as an institution does not silence individuals at the request of the police," the organizations wrote.
They asked Zuckerberg to develop a policy "that protects individual civil liberties and is transparent and accountable to the public."
A Facebook spokeswoman said the company is reviewing the letter and declined to comment. Earlier this month, the company confirmed that it shut down and later restored Gaines' account at the request of police.
A county tactical officer shot and killed Gaines on Aug. 1 at her apartment after police said Gaines pointed her shotgun and threatened to kill him. The officer, who has not been identified, also hit Gaines' 5-year-old son, Kodi, in the cheek when firing at Gaines.
Gaines posted video of her encounter with police that day to her Facebook account. Police Chief Jim Johnson said afterward that some of her followers "were encouraging her not to comply with negotiators' requests that she surrender peacefully."
In the Castile case, Facebook said the video was temporarily removed because of a technical glitch.
The groups that wrote to Zuckerberg on Monday include SumOfUs, Color of Change, the Center for Media Justice and Daily Kos. They wrote that broadcasting on Facebook "is one of the most powerful tools in the world for documenting police brutality and raising awareness of the scale and systemic nature of police misconduct.
"Increasingly, this platform isn't just a place where news is shared within social networks, but a platform where news is broken," they wrote. "If your company agrees to censor people's accounts at the request of police — thereby allowing the police to control what the public sees on Facebook — then it is part of the problem."
They also referenced the Facebook CEO's support for the Black Lives Matter movement, writing that last month he "hung a massive #blacklivesmatter banner on Facebook's campus."