Facebook has reportedly removed a viral group page that accused the “Democrats of scheming to disenfranchise and nullify Republican votes” after it gained more than 350,000 members in a single day.
According to the Guardian, The quick enforcement against a political group was unusual for Facebook and has raised questions about the consistency and transparency of the company’s content moderation. The group, “Stop the Steal”, was reportedly established by a rightwing not-for-profit group, Women for America First, and run by a team of moderators and administrators that included the longtime Tea Party activist Amy Kremer.
The Guardian stated that Members of the group page were encouraged to provide their personal email addresses to a website calling for “boots on the ground to protect the integrity of the vote”, as well as to donate money for the cause. The group page exploded with followers on Wednesday and Thursday, producing more than 730,000 interactions, according to data from CrowdTangle, which is a Facebook-owned social media analytics platform.
The report revealed that the most popular posts in the group were calls for prayer for Donald Trump, but the group was also rife with what is being deemed “misinformation’ about the election and processes for counting ballots. Two of the group’s moderators, Jennifer Lawrence and Dustin Stockton, are connected to the “We Build the Wall” campaign, for which former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was indicted for fraud, the Daily Beast reported.
“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,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group.” The group was also accused of promoting nearly a dozen “Stop the Steal” Facebook events in cities around the United States; however, Facebook has also been quick to remove those pages as well.
According to the Wallstreet Journal, Facebook’s decision to remove the group was “in line with the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension,” according to a spokesman who said that “Stop the Steal” 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,” he said.