Facebook Shuts Down ‘Stop The Steal’ Group Over ‘Worrying Calls For Violence’
The social media company put a stop to the group yesterday, November 5, but not before it had amassed more than 350,000 members.
The group referred to baseless allegations that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is ‘stealing’ the election from Trump, and encourages the vote counting to stop.
Votes are still being tallied across the US as the race for the White House continues, though the current president has already attempted to claim victory on more than one occasion. Trump has made allegations of voter fraud and accused counters of ‘finding Biden votes all over the place’.
The president’s supporters have echoed his claims in protests outside counting centres across the country, and members of the Stop The Steal group are said to have called for violence in response to the claims.
Facebook announced the decision to ban the group in a statement following pressure from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which battles hate and dangerous misinformation in digital spaces.
A statement from the social media company read:
In line with the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension, we have removed the Group ‘Stop the Steal,’ which was creating real-world events.
The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group.
A screenshot shared by the Center for Countering Digital Hate pictured one post that read: ‘Neither side is going to concede. Time to clean the guns, time to hit the streets’
Stop The Steal is one of a number of similar Facebook groups that began in the wake of the election, with members and organisers allegedly attempting to get around Facebook’s moderators by telling members they will remove anything that calls for violence and discussing plans to move the groups to other platforms.
Facebook stressed that it will continue to watch for activity that violates its rules and take action against any pages or members that do. A copycat Stop The Steal group began to gain members on the same day the original was shut down, and a number of other, smaller groups are still active on the site.
Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, expressed hopes that the closure of the original group would send ‘a message to others’.
Facebook has also banned use of the ‘stopthesteal’ hashtag, which was being used by Trump supporters making the same allegations against Democrats.
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