Facebook and Instagram Ban Charity.

Three words that we never thought we’d hear together are “cosplay,” “charities” and “banned.”

For the uninitiated, “cosplay” is short for “costume play” which is defined by Merriam-Webster as:

the activity or practice of dressing up as a character from a work of fiction (such as a comic book, video game, or television show)

Simply put, cosplayers dress up in costumes of favorite characters and share a love of different shows, movies, genres, etc.

To be honest with you, cosplay itself is not something that we get into here. However, we are constantly amazed at the images and photos we have seen of cosplayers and their costumes. The detail, the craftsmanship and the technical aspects of the costumes rival that of major television and motion picture studios.

Nerov Olp was a cosplayer who also had a sense of community outside of other cosplayers. To corrupt a famous line from Star Wars, “the sense of giving back was strong in this one.” That is evidenced by Norov becomming a US Army Combat Medic.

In 2015, Nerov and his mother Vinessa founded a group called “OathKeepers Causeplay.”

According to the group’s website, “OathKeepers Causeplay” was named by Nerov:

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. An oath to bring smiles to those who need them. An oath to serve our community. An oath to make a positive difference in our world.

Nerov passed away in 2016 but the group remained.

So what does the group do?

The OathKeepers Causeplay is a collection of volunteers who dress in costume. These costumes come from a wide variety of popular fandoms and are kid friendly. Costumers are expected to uphold a high standard of integrity and compassion when out in the field. We work with various charities and community groups across the state of Colorado. Some of our past events have been held at Children’s Hospital Colorado, multiple outdoor events such as the annual MDA race/walk, and Night to Shine. We also participate in Honor Flight Welcome Home ceremonies for WWII, Vietnam, and Korea War Veterans, and the annual Special Olympics Plane Pull at DIA. This year has been no different. Even though the pandemic has cancelled most large events, we still were able to surprise families at home with a parade of heroes. This event was put together by one of our members who is known as Hospital Batman and Colorado Captain. Members of The OathKeepers Causeplay, along with several other amazing volunteer groups (Geek Garage, Mountain Legion 501st, Mountain Base Rebel Legion just to name a few), visited 12 cities, 32 homes/neighborhoods and drove over 300 miles in three days to bring joy to children who are fighting cancer.

Here’s a short video on the group, hosted by Vinessa Olp and featuring members discussing what they do.

Unfortunately, for OathKeepers Causeplay, there is another group called “Oathkeepers” that is a far right wing in nature in nature and in some cases, has advocated violence against those with whom they disagree. Depending on who you talk to or read, Oathkeepers is either a dangerous domestic terrorist group, or people fighting for the American way of life.

What they are not, is a group of cosplayers banning together to bring smiles to the faces of kids and support charities.

In their purge of so called “hate groups,” Facebook and Facebook owned Instagram got rid of and deplatformed the “Oathkeepers” group.

In doing so, they two media entities banned “OathKeepers Causeplay” as well.

[The OathKeepers Causeplay’s] work, however, was “affected dramatically” after Facebook locked the organization and the group administrators’ personal accounts on August 19 without giving any indication or notification about why.

“There was no email saying ‘Hey, you violated anything and we’re putting you in Facebook jail,’” Olp said. “None of us got an email. None of us got anything.”

The OathKeepers Causeplay’s accounts were locked the same day in August the big tech company announced it would be purging groups, pages, and accounts from its site and Facebook-owned Instagram of what they believe to be “anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests” such as QAnon. Their policy on QAnon extended in late October to redirect users searching for terms and content related to the movement to information provided by the Global Network on Extremism and Technology labeling it as “decentralised violent ideology.”

The charity’s Facebook page and membership group, which had close to 100 members, were the organization’s primary means of contact not only for their volunteers to learn about events and connect, but also for other charities that they routinely work with such as Children’s Hospital Colorado, Walk With Autism, Relay For Life, and more.

Not only did Facebook and Instagram go after the group account without waring, they went after individual members accounts, locking and banning them as well.

The members of the group sought to contact Facebook and Instagram only to be met with silence.

They have gone through all of the protocols to try and speak with someone but no one at either site will talk with them.

This situation is ridiculous and intolerable for many reasons.

First, this is a screenshot of a portion of the OathKeepers Causeplay website:

Do you see any hate on that page? Any advocacy for violence? A “call to arms” like the other Oathkeepers’ sites?

We sure as heck don’t.

And as for “a call to arms,” the Code of Conduct handbook of the group doesn’t allow for real weapons and “fake” or “toy” weapons are approved on a case by case, event by even basis:

No real-world weapons of any kind are permitted, no exceptions. This includes but is not limited to permanently deactivated firearms, swords, knives, crossbows, etc.

Non-functional toy or foam replicas may be permitted. Certain events may not allow replica weapons in any form while others may permit them on a case by case basis. Please refer to each event sign up.

Secondly, the business model of Facebook and Instagram rely heavily on your reading and group “habits” as well as your posts. The tech companies sell that data to other companies as well as take advertising dollars for products, goods and services that are aimed right at you. Contrast that with the OathKeepers Causeplay sit that doesn’t ask for donations or even have a way to donate.

Third, and more perhaps more importantly, large tech groups like Facebook and Instagram announced prior to the election that they were going to post notices on posts that may not be true, employ “fact checkers,” and remove posts that were found to be false.

What does it say that these so called “fact checkers” decided that a group of people that dress up in costumes and band together to help others within the community have been equated to another group?

Is there really some person who thinks that a person in a Pikachu or Groot costume has anything to do with the right wing Oathkeepers?

How reckless is Facebook and Instagram being with these decisions to ban people without the people having any recourse?

This is a no brainer. It took us about a second and a half to look at the OathKeepers Causeplay site to see that these are people who don’t want to hurt anyone and are doing great things – even in the time of the pandemic – to bring smiles and happiness to others.

Facebook and Instagram needs to bring back this group now – if not sooner – and maybe you can help.

As we said, OathKeepers Causeplay is not asking for money or donations. What they have done is start a petition to try and get Facebook and Instagram to notice, and retract the bans on their groups.

You can find that petition here.

We ask that you tell your friends and family members as well. Who knows? Maybe Facebook and Instagram will come after you. Or even worse, maybe someone in your family or someone you know may need the smiles that OathKeepers Causeplay brings to people. We certainly hope not, but this is a case where good people can band together and support other good people in the country.

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