Winter Springs, FL – Instagram shut down the page of a 12-year-old boy who fundraises for first responders and runs a mile for every police officer and firefighter in the United States who was killed in the line of duty.
On the same day, Facebook banned the police publication Law Enforcement Today from posting to any of their groups or pages.
Running 4 Heroes (@running4heroes) has shared pictures and videos on their Instagram account of 12-year-old Zechariah Cartledge running for first responders since he first began his mission when he was only 10 years old.
The organization’s website explained that Zechariah found himself on the mission after he ran to raise money for in the Tunnels to Towers 5k in Orlando in October of 2017.
Tunnel to Towers was established in honor of New York Firefighter Stephen Siller, who was killed during the Sep. 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York City.
Zechariah’s first run for charity in 2017 sparked the creation of Running 4 Heroes Inc. and the organization became a 501 (c)(3) non-profit in 2019.
The money that Running 4 Heroes raises goes to pay for the Thin Blue Line flags that Zechariah runs with, according to the organization’s website.
After his run, the 12 year old presents the flag he carried to the family of the fallen hero he was honoring.
The organization has posted pictures of the runs to social media since the initiative first began.
Zechariah’s father, Chad Cartledge, told The Police Tribune that in the past two years, his son has run more than 760 miles for fallen police officers and firefighters.
Additionally, the 12 year old’s nonprofit has contributed $85,000 to help 13 heroes who were injured in the line of duty, according to his father.
Chad Cartledge said he was shocked when he went to post on @Running4HeroesInc account on Instagram on Sunday morning and discovered the page had been closed down overnight.
“We went to log in two days ago and we were told that, due to violating Instagram terms, our account was removed,” Chad Cartledge wrote in an email. “When I tried to appeal, we received a response that said we were unable to get our page back as our page violated their rules against impersonating other accounts.”
He said that the page, which had more than 2,500 hundred followers when Instagram locked it, received no warnings at all before it was shut down.
“Zechariah was frustrated when he was told this, but it didn’t deter him from continuing with the mission. In fact, he ran for three heroes that same night and live streamed his runs on his Facebook channel,” the father of the motivated 12 year old told The Police Tribune.
Chad Cartledge posted about the shutdown of their Instagram page on their Facebook page in the early hours of Dec. 20.
“Some bummer news to share with you all… We were made aware over the last few hours that Instagram has removed the ‘Running 4 Heroes’ Instagram page. The reason for removal was ‘for violating the terms’ of Instagram,” the post read.
Instagram is owned by Facebook, a company notorious for using algorithms to ban accounts and offering no real due process.
“They never were able to provide us specifics as to what terms we violated, though they did hint at our account ‘impersonating’ someone… I continue to seek answers on why our account was removed, though it will appear to be a losing battle,” the page shared.
So Chad Cartledge set up a new page for his son’s charity at @runningforheroesinc and that page quickly gained 2,000 more followers than their original Instagram account.
Late Monday afternoon, Instagram reinstated Zechariah’s original account without an explanation of why it had been shut down in the first place.
“Some Big News… Instagram has reinstated our original page!!!” Running 4 Heroes posted to its Facebook page. “While that is AWESOME, due to the response we have received over the last 24-hours, our new account actually now has more followers than our older account had originally. Because of that, we will continue to use the new account but will keep our older account active (though archived) in order to keep the years worth of photos/memories available to us. Your voice made them do what is right! Thank you!”
But Running 4 Heroes wasn’t the only organization who got a nasty surprise from a social media giant on Sunday.
Facebook locked down Law Enforcement Today’s (LET) Facebook pages on Sunday morning with no way for the publication to appeal.
LET announced in an article on its website on Dec. 20 that it had been blocked from posting content on its official page, as well as several more associated pages.
LET spokesman Kyle Reyes told The Police Tribune on Monday night that the publication doesn’t even know what “set Facebook off” and the social media platform doesn’t offer any meaningful way to dispute their action.
“There’s no recourse,” the LET spokesman complained. “There’s nobody you can ask. They just send you a link for more info that shows a possible hundred violations, but it doesn’t tell you which one you’re supposed to be guilty of.”
Reyes said that most frustrating part of the lockout is the fact that there’s no guidance or opportunity to undo whatever Facebook doesn’t approve of.
“With something like this, you don’t know if it’s a technical glitch, if you actually did something wrong, or if they just don’t like you,” Reyes said.
He said that unless Facebook reverses itself quickly, he’ll have to start laying off the retired and disabled law enforcement veterans who write for the publication.
But the action by the social media giant wasn’t completely out of the blue.
LET had their pages flagged on Dec. 9 that it was in violation of Facebook policy.
“Page Restrictions— Your page is at risk of being restricted for repeated violations against our standards on Inauthentic Behavior. Your page may also experience reduced distribution,” the warning to LET read.
The Inauthentic Behavior policy is the same policy that Facebook uses to stop foreign governments from interfering in the U.S. election.
It’s the sort of policy that would more commonly be used to shut down a Russian network pretending to be American rather than a publication owned by an active law enforcement officer from Florida.
Reyes certainly doesn’t appear to be pretending to be anybody other than who he is – a very outspoken pro-police conservative who brags about making potential employees take a test to weed out liberals.
After the initial flag, LET said it had received yet another notice about their Facebook page’s content.
“We limit how often you can post, comment, or do other things in a given amount of time in order to help protect the community from spam,” the warning read. “You can try again later. If you think this doesn’t go against our Community Standards, let us know.”
But LET said they haven’t violated any of Facebook’s rules and alleged they are being targeted.
It was not the first time the law enforcement publication accused a social media platform of singling them out.
LET reported that Reyes was locked out of his LinkedIn page in January.
Reyes has complained that his LinkedIn account was shut down after he shared an LET story about Project Veritas exposing some of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) Presidential campaign staff talking about sending Trump supporters to re-education camps and praising the former Soviet Union’s gulags.
He was doubly furious because he had a paid account.
Reyes said he reached out LinkedIn on Jan. 28 to report the restriction and find out what he had to do fix things and heard back nine days later that his account was still under review.
That’s when he got really angry.
“You’ve violated the terms of the contract and are now costing my company substantial amounts of money,” Reyes said at the time.
His LinkedIn account remains closed.
LET was founded by Robert Greenberg, a captain and 34-year veteran of the Indian Creek Village Department of Public Safety, in 2008.
Greenberg is still the owner, although Reyes is the face of the company.
The Police Tribune reached out to Facebook and Instagram for comment on Monday but had not received a response by publication time.