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Breaking News Alert This Week In Lawfare Land: 'Deadly Force'

Meta Falsely Links Pro-Parent School Board President To Child Abuse Images

Sonja Shaw
Image CreditKTLA 5/YouTube

After supporting school staff telling parents if their children express gender dysphoria, two local officials were falsely labeled as linked to child abuse.


The Californians at the center of one of the biggest parents’ rights fights in the nation right now were targeted last month when Meta falsely associated searches of their names with a warning about “child sexual abuse.”

President of Chino Valley Unified School District Sonja Shaw was one of two parents’ rights activists who, after supporting a policy requiring school staff to notify parents if their child indicates gender dysphoria, faced unfounded smears from Meta’s Facebook and Instagram.

A screenshot of searches on these platforms from an attorney for Shaw shows that, for an undefined period, searches including Shaw’s name or position were blocked by a notification warning about child sexual abuse.

“Child sexual abuse is illegal,” the popup stated. “We think that your search might be associated with child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse or viewing sexual imagery of children can lead to imprisonment and other severe personal consequences. This abuse causes extreme harm to children and searching and viewing such material adds to that harm.”

The search notification concluded with instructions on “how to report any content as inappropriate.”

After California State Assembly candidate Nick Wilson, who was also falsely associated with child abuse in the same fashion, contacted Meta, the social media platform removed the popup.

In a letter to Meta Chief Legal Officer Jennifer Newstead, Liberty Justice Center Senior Counsel M.E. Buck Dougherty III demanded on behalf of Shaw answers for why Meta “decided to initially issue its false public statement associating and linking her with child sexual abuse” and whether the government was involved in the incident.

Dougherty also asked for “written assurance” by March 21 promising “that Meta and its employees will never again target Ms. Shaw with another egregiously false statement.”

“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 Meta 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,” he concluded.

LJC, which represents the CVUSD president in California v. Chino Valley Unified School District, did not receive a reply, Dougherty told The Federalist. Meta did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment.

Meta’s unfounded accusation sparked a slew of social media backlash against Shaw.

“They started posting vile things on my social media. I think one day I had a few thousand hate messages talking about ‘die, you c-word,” Shaw told The Federalist.

Shaw also received two vulgar letters, examined by The Federalist, that threatened harm against her and her family. One letter was sent to her home. Another was sent via the U.S. Postal Service to her office with a return address falsely attributing the vile content to conservative parental rights state Sen. Mayes Middleton in Texas.

“Obviously he did not send it,” Dougherty told The Federalist. “I have personally spoken before this call with Senator Middleton and he is sharing that information with the law enforcement office.”

Shaw said the letters also prompted an immediate response from her local law enforcement, which ordered extra security and drive-bys.

“I can’t even let my kids go outside to walk the dog right now. We’re on high alert. You don’t want to live like this, but you can’t be stupid,” she said.

Despite the intimidation campaign Meta appears to have helped launch, Shaw said she won’t back down from protecting CVUSD kids.

“They want you to be scared. They want you to walk away They want control of the kids. They want to harm the kids. Everything that we’re doing is fight against this. They wouldn’t be fighting against us if they didn’t want that control over children,” Shaw said. “So as much as I’m scared, I think about how beautiful and innocent the children are. And leaving them to people who are willing to threaten me and my own kids’ lives and my family, I can’t walk away from that.” 

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