Facebook has taken down a group that had amassed more than 300,000 members and was sharing misinformation and organizing around false allegations of impropriety during the 2020 elections.
The group, called “Stop the Steal 2020,” was organizing protests targeting the election officials currently counting ballots cast in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Phoenix and Las Vegas.
“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,” said a Facebook spokesperson in a statement emailed to TechCrunch. “The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group.”
Facebook’s action was first noticed by Ryan Mac of BuzzFeed, who reported the move in a tweet.
Protestors advocating for votes to be counted and for vote counting to cease are cropping up across the country as Republican Party organizers and campaign officials try to derail the count of mail-in ballots and absentee votes cast in the 2020 race and Democratic supporters organize counter-protests.
Social media election takedowns
While the organizers may be tapping supporters of President Trump across the country, their messaging is different depending on the state.
In Phoenix, protestors are calling for all votes to be counted, as presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden hangs on to a slim lead in Arizona.
Meanwhile, the messaging is the opposite in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada, where President Donald Trump is trying to preserve the slim margins that have him ahead or reverse the counts that had put him behind in the polls. In Detroit, for instance, Trump supporters held up signs that said “stop the steal” and “stop the cheat” according to news reports.
Conservative advocates across the Twittersphere have had their tweets amended by the company to indicate that they were sharing election misinformation.
Facebook has also added “labels” to election posts that break the rules, though they are designed to mostly point users to contextual, factual information rather than to offer explicit warnings about false claims.
In fact, as a direct response to Trump’s premature claims of victory, Facebook also rolled out an eye-catching set of messages across Facebook and Instagram reminding users that votes were still being counted.
Facebook has also instituted changes to its policies about groups that organize real-world events in the wake of 2016’s election disinformation campaign carried out by Russian agents and the recent shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin in which two men were killed after a local self-declared militia group organized a response to protests against the shooting of Kenosha resident, Jacob Blake.
Facebook fighting against disinformation: Launch new options
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has dismantled new malicious networks that used vaccine debates to harass professionals or sow division in some countries, a sign that disinformation about the pandemic, spread for political ends, is on the wane not.
“They insulted doctors, journalists and elected officials, calling them supporters of the Nazis because they were promoting vaccines against the Covid, ensuring that compulsory vaccination would lead to a dictatorship of health,” explained Mike Dvilyanski, director investigations into emerging threats, at a press conference on Wednesday.
He was referring to a network linked to an anti-vaccination movement called “V_V”, which the Californian group accuses of having carried out a campaign of intimidation and mass harassment in Italy and France, against health figures, media and politics.
The authors of this operation coordinated in particular via the Telegram messaging system, where the volunteers had access to lists of people to target and to “training” to avoid automatic detection by Facebook.
Their tactics included leaving comments under victims’ messages rather than posting content, and using slightly changed spellings like “vaxcinati” instead of “vaccinati”, meaning “people vaccinated” in Italian.
The social media giant said it was difficult to assess the reach and impact of the campaign, which took place across different platforms.
This is a “psychological war” against people in favor of vaccines, according to Graphika, a company specializing in the analysis of social networks, which published Wednesday a report on the movement “V_V”, whose name comes from the Italian verb “vivere” (“to live”).
“We have observed what appears to be a sprawling populist movement that combines existing conspiratorial theories with anti-authoritarian narratives, and a torrent of health disinformation,” experts detail.
They estimate that “V_V” brings together some 20,000 supporters, some of whom have taken part in acts of vandalism against hospitals and operations to interfere with vaccinations, by making medical appointments without honoring them, for example.
Change on Facebook
Facebook announces news that will facilitate your sales and purchases on the social network.
Mark Zuckerberg, the boss of Facebook, announced that the parent company would now be called Meta, to better represent all of its activities, from social networks to virtual reality, but the names of the different services will remain unchanged. A month later, Meta is already announcing news for the social network.
The first is the launch of online stores in Facebook groups. A “Shop” tab will appear and will allow members to buy products directly through the group in question.
Other features have been communicated with the aim of facilitating e-commerce within the social network, such as the display of recommendations and a better mention of products or even Live Shopping. At this time, no date has been announced regarding the launch of these new options.
In the light of recent features, the company wants to know the feedback from its users through the survey same like what Tesco doing to get its customers feedback via Tesco Views Survey. However, the company is still about this feedback will announce sooner than later in this regard.
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