Oakland, California (AP) – Facebook on Thursday banned a large group called “Stop the Steel” that supporters of President Donald Trump were using to organize protests against the presidential vote count. Some members called for violence, while many made false claims Democrats are “stealing” from Republicans.
Although the group gathered more than 350,000 members before Facebook took it down, it was one of several smaller groups that popped up as an extended vote count for days in several battlegrounds. Inside the groups, members and organizers tried to make sure they would meet around Facebook moderators and “trolls” who could report to them or make fun of them.
Facebook said in a statement, “According to this period of extraordinary tension, which we are raising in this period of tension, we have removed the group ‘Stop the Steel’.” “The group was organized around the delegation of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group.”
Facebook said that it would continue to watch activities that violate its rules and would take action if it happens. As of Thursday afternoon, a copycat “Stop the Steel” group with 13,000 members was steadily growing, and others could easily be searched on Facebook.
Inside the groups, members posted baseless claims of voter fraud and organized protest. Calls for violence were not immediately clear, although the Center for Counting Digital Hate shared Screenshot A post from the now-banned group read that “neither side is being accepted.” Time to clean the guns, time to hit the streets. ”
In the new group, administrators – who make up the Facebook and liberal groups – warned people to keep the posts civil and vent frustrations without threats. He warned members consciously that they would remove anything that calls for violence, adding that they plan to move the group to other, lower-middle platforms.
Imran Ahmed, CEO of Center for Counting Digital Hate, who pressured Facebook to land the group, said that while it is true that it all sounds like a weird-mole game, the mole is slowly learning its lesson .
“By sending out the eldest, it has sent a message to others,” he said.
But Ahmed said that Facebook should not be so difficult to acquire for taking action on such a large group of violence.
“There is a systemic issue with Facebook groups that are used by people to spread misinformation, incite hatred and incite violence,” he said, adding that “this is a problem they have known for a long time and they take appropriate action Fail. It usually only happens when there is a lot of attention to something that they act on. ”
As of Thursday afternoon, Facebook also banned the #stopthesteal hashtag. But this could easily happen earlier. According to an analysis by media intelligence firm Jignesh Labs, the term was mentioned about 120,000 times on websites and social media platforms on Tuesday and throughout the day.
Also on Thursday, Twitter banned an account used by Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon. The right-wing inflammatory writer, who used the handle warpandemic, in his talk show Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Ray were condemned. As of Wednesday evening, Bannon’s account was still active on Facebook, where the video calling Fauci and Ray was viewed nearly 200,000 times in ten hours.
Clapper from Providence reported, RI Associated Press writer Amanda Seitz from Chicago contributed to the story.