Under pressure to ward off violence ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Facebook on Monday announced it’s taking down any content that uses the phrase “Stop the Steal.”
That phrase has become a banner around which President Donald Trump and some of his supporters rallied as they touted baseless fraud allegations in a bid to overturn his loss in the November election. Many of his supporters violently storming the Capitol last week used the phrase.
Facebook’s move is coming as tech companies are taking unprecedented steps to halt Trump’s own online reach in addition to targeting other organizing tools such as the messaging platform Parler.
Why Facebook is acting: The social media giant said the additional step is needed due to real threats of violence still at play among Trump backers who believe Biden’s election was illegitimate.
“[W]ith continued attempts to organize events against the outcome of the US presidential election that can lead to violence, and use of the term by those involved in Wednesday’s violence in DC, we’re taking this additional step in the lead up to the inauguration,” Facebook vice presidents Guy Rosen and Monika Bickert wrote in a blog post.
“It may take some time to scale up our enforcement of this new step but we have already removed a significant number of posts,” they added. "We’ve been allowing robust conversations related to the election outcome and that will continue."
Several of these "Stop the Steal" groups have still flourished in recent days, as BuzzFeed News reported. Facebook noted it took down the original Stop the Steal group in November.
What’s next: The Facebook officials said they are “working 24/7 to enforce our policies around the inauguration.”
Facebook’s Integrity Operations Center will run through at least Jan. 22 to help probe any threats, according to the company. It noted the center was active before the Georgia runoff elections and the election certification count. Facebook extended the center’s work on account of last week’s violence, it said.
Facebook will also add a news digest to Facebook News during inauguration week to help provide a venue for credible information. "This will include live video of the inauguration at the US Capitol on January 20," the company said.
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