Meta Falsely Associates School Board President—a Parental Rights Champion—with Child Sexual Abuse

March 21, 2024

(RedState)—Sonja Shaw, President of the Chino Valley Unified School District School Board, is used to political opponents spinning false tales about her, and seeing those tales end up in disingenuous news stories. After all, she’s not beholden to the teacher’s unions, and she ran as a newcomer in 2022 on a novel platform: that parents have the right to be fully involved in their child’s education.

But the latest fake news about Shaw came courtesy of Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, which is falsely associating Shaw with child sexual abuse. According to the Liberty Justice Center, a group representing Shaw, “Recently, members of the public who searched for Shaw’s name on the Meta-owned platforms Instagram and Facebook received a warning message. In that message, Meta stated, ‘We think that your search might be associated with child sexual abuse’ and warned that ‘searching for such material’ can lead to imprisonment and other severe punishments.”

Shaw wasn’t the only politician targeted. Republican Nick Wilson is running for the California State Assembly in a district in the same area where Shaw lives, a district that’s been represented by a Democrat for more than a decade. That Democrat, Freddie Rodriguez, is term-limited and couldn’t run for election in 2024. Wilson earned 43 percent of the vote, trouncing three Democrats – including Freddie’s wife, Michelle. Facebook and Instagram users searching for Wilson received the same warning message.

After various social media users, including former Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, highlighted the problem, the warning messages stopped appearing. But, searching “Nick Wilson” and variants of “AD53” or “for Assembly” returned zero search results. Completely doing away with any search results for the Republican nominee for state Assembly is election interference.

While the false association is no longer appearing on Meta’s platform, Shaw wants answers as to what happened and who’s going to be held accountable – and a promise that it’ll never happen again. From a demand letter sent to Meta:

First, Ms. Shaw hereby requests written assurance by 5:00 pm Pacific on Thursday, March 21, 2024, that Meta and its employees will never again target Ms. Shaw with another egregiously false statement. Meta’s false message and speech implied to the public that Ms. Shaw herself has been associated with child sexual abuse, which of course is FALSE. Additionally, Ms. Shaw requests an explanation in writing as to how Meta decided to initially issue its false public statement associating and linking her with child sexual abuse, including any communication Meta may have received from any state or federal government officials about Ms. Shaw.

Shaw is concerned that Meta’s actions here could be an attempt to interfere with ongoing litigation between the California Attorney General and the Chino Valley Unified School District regarding the district’s parental notification policies.

Even though Liberty Justice Center does not represent Nick Wilson, Shaw wants more information from Meta about how they came to target Wilson, too.

Second, Ms. Shaw is aware of a similar incident where Meta interfered in a political matter and published the same false message about politician Nick Wilson, State Assembly District 53 (whom we do not represent). Both Ms. Shaw and Mr.Wilson have been outspoken in advocating for parents’ rights with respect to children’s gender transitions. As chair of the Chino Valley Unified School District Board, Ms. Shaw is defending against litigation on its behalf (which we represent) by the California Attorney General regarding the District’s parental notification policies. Meta’s false “sexual abuse” tagging appears as though it could be retaliation against Ms. Shaw and Mr. Wilson for taking political and legal stances with which employees disagree. To the extent Meta and its employees are attempting to improperly interfere with ongoing litigation in California courts involving Ms. Shaw and the Chino Valley Unified School District, please be advised that Ms. Shaw intends to exhaust all available legal remedies available to her on her own behalf, as well as Chino Valley Unified School District’s behalf.

Buck Dougherty, senior counsel at Liberty Justice Center, called Meta’s actions “egregious” and said they “look forward to reviewing Meta’s written explanation of its actions come Thursday.”