Independent news outlet Unicorn Riot, say that at least 20 pipeline protesters were arrested at gunpoint along with medics and two journalists.
The group’s live coverage of riot police clashing with protesters at a construction site of the Dakota Access pipeline was blocked by “Facebook’s automated censorship system”
Unicorn Riot was in North Dakota Tuesday, covering a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline. They said that whenever they tried to post their livestream, Facebook rejected the link as one that “our security systems detected to be unsafe.”
The link has since been restored and is now visible on the groups page, but a spokesperson for Unicorn Riot believes the livestream was censored.
The crude oil pipeline is the subject of protest, in part, because environmentalists and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe claim its construction is destroying sacred sites and natural resources or risks damaging them.
In an emailed statement to RT, a member of the Unicorn Riot said, “our collective members immediately noticed that the full Livestream event URL (https://livestream.com/unicornriot/events/6340986) was being blocked from Facebook.”
“Posts and comments with the URL both immediately triggered popup security alerts,” the team member continued. “We tried putting the same URL through Bitly shortening and that official Unicorn Riot page post was deleted by Facebook within a few minutes. Finally we went with sharing our ‘Live Channel’ URL on our own website which had the embed included on it.”
The statement went on to clarify that “the ‘Facebook Debugger’ warned that our live video URL violated ‘community standards.’”
In its response, Facebook offered little more than words to make up for blocking the news content.
“The link was removed in error and restored as soon as we were able to investigate. Our team processes millions of reports each week, and we sometimes get things wrong. We’re very sorry about this mistake,” a Facebook spokesperson told Motherboard.
Blaming “both Facebook and law enforcement” for blocking their media distribution, the collective member vowed, “we will not let them stop our mission to amplify the voices of people who might otherwise go unheard, and broadcast the stories that might otherwise go untold.”
“Also, as one member of the collective, I should point out it is obviously concerning when a large media conglomerate blocks URLs to competing video platforms,” the Unicorn Riot member concluded.