Fb removes Cease the Steal 2020 public group for "delegitimizing the electoral course of"
The fight against election-related misinformation continued for Facebook on Thursday when the social network shut down a public group, Stop the Steal 2020, which had attracted over 300,000 members in just two days.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the action, saying, "In line with the extraordinary measures we are taking during this time of heightened tension, we have removed the 'Stop the Steal' group that spawned real events. The group aimed to delegitimize the electoral process and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group. "
The group was used to organize protests in states where ballots were still being counted, and it was also littered with calls for violence and inaccurate claims about the polling process.
Slate's Aaron Mak reported the group had more than 360,000 members, while Mother Jones' Ali Breland reported that it was affiliated with Republican activists including Liberty Lab, which provides digital services to conservative customers, and Women for America First, a nonprofit Organization that was co-founded led by former tea party activist Amy Kremer.
The Center for Combating Digital Hate posted screenshots of the group on Twitter with calls for violence such as "Time to clean your guns, time to take to the streets" and "It's time". We have to resort to violence if we have to. "
. @ Facebook is hosting a "Stop the Steal" group led by personalities close to Donald Trump and Steve Bannon.
It calls on 300,000 members to protest the number of votes and includes calls for violence.
It needs to be shut down. pic.twitter.com/on308Xvze4
– Center to Combat Digital Hate (@CCDHate) November 5, 2020
The social network hadn't yet responded to a request for comment at the time of this post, but it also appears to have blocked the hashtag #StopTheSteal as well as #SharpieGate, which refers to a since then debunked conspiracy theory that claims the board of regulators is in Maricopa County, Ga. – one of the states that has not yet announced a winner – said using Sharpies would invalidate the ballot papers.
If you click on one of these hashtags, a message will appear from Facebook that posts with these hashtags will be temporarily hidden due to a violation of community standards.
However, TechCrunch's Taylor Hatmaker and Sarah Perez pointed out that hashtags with similar intentions continued to work on the platform, including #ElectionFraud, #ElectionMeddling, #Rigged, and #RiggedElection.