The Fallout 76 role-playing group Free States Militia was temporarily banned from Facebook late last week, seemingly after getting caught up in one of the social media platform’s routine moderation sweeps.
“So Facebook just banned our page and banned all admins from our Gaming group,” the Free States Militia—Fallout 76 players who role-play as the series’ canonical Appalachian anarchist group—wrote on Twitter last Thursday. In addition to the disappearance of their Facebook page, which the group said contained two years’ worth of pictures and fan-made lore, the group’s admins also had their Facebook accounts banned, restricting access to years of personal data.
“One minute here, the next minute we’re deleted,” Free States Militia admin Jessica Dickey told Kotaku in a private message. “A video game fan site based on an in-game faction of the same name. It makes no sense, especially when there are real life militia groups still up and running on Facebook.”
The group’s page ended up being restored later the following day after an outpouring of support from other Fallout 76 role-play groups. “We apologize for removing the Fallout 76 Groups in error and have since restored the Group and admin accounts,” a spokesperson for Facebook told Kotaku in an email.
“We are committed to taking action against Groups tied to violence,” the spokesperson continued. “We have both AI that detects these groups as well as 15,000 human content reviewers, but occasionally Groups are removed in error. If we detect a Group is connected to a dangerous organization, we may remove the Group and associated admin Profiles are disabled.”
Facebook would not say what it was about the Free States Militia group that flagged it for takedown. Among the Facebook Group’s rules are “Be kind and courteous, don’t be a douche,” as well as “No hate: don’t be a racist prick, don’t be a homophobe, don’t mess with the Free States Militia.” The group is marked as private so there’s no way to see what messages were being shared on it, but talk of killing fictional foes is obviously common in the Fallout 76 community.
The Fallout 76 mix-up comes as Facebook faces criticism for failing to crack down on real hate groups using the social media platform, including the real life militias. A page for the group called “Kenosha Guard” wasn’t removed until the day after Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly shot two people during protests over the police killing of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Company CEO Mark Zuckerberg called that oversight an “operational mistake” at the time.