‘Stop the Steal’ Group Sows Election Misinformation, FB Bans It

The group that started on Wednesday had over 3,50,000 members in less than 24 hours before Facebook took it down.

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WebQoof
3 min read
A protester lights an American flag on fire during a demonstration Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Portland. Image used for representation.
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On Thursday, 5 November, Facebook shut down the group ‘Stop the Steal’, which saw massive number of supporters of US President Donald Trump sharing misinformation about the election process and calling for violence.

The group that started on Wednesday had over 3,50,000 members in less than 24 hours before Facebook took it down. An hour after the first post on welcoming the members was shared, a video showing crowd standing outside a polling station in Detroit and shouting “stop the count” was uploaded, The New York Times reported.

The video saw comments such as: “Biden is stealing the vote” and “this is unfair”, the report added.

This comes in the backdrop of Trump’s address to America in which he pressed the need to 'stop the count' of the 'votes that came in late'.

He painted the election results so far in the colour of conspiracy, arguing of schemes to deprive him of a second term by Democrats, election officials in various cities and the news media. "They are trying to steal the election," Trump said.

WHAT DID FACEBOOK SAY?

Regarding the group, in a statement, Facebook said, “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,” AP reported.

“The group was organised around the delegitimisation of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group,” the statement mentioned.

WHAT WAS THE CONTENT SHARED IN THE GROUP?

Center for Countering Digital Hate put out a Twitter thread in which it mentioned that the group was calling members to “protest at vote counts” and called for violence.

‘Stop the Steal’ Group Sows Election Misinformation, FB Bans It
(Photo Courtesy: Screenshot/Twitter)
In the subsequent tweets, the organisation shared screenshots of a group administrator who shared a post calling for military veterans to “join a fire mission at counts in battleground states.”

The group also saw a plethora of misinformation regarding the election process.

“Election misinformation is spreading fast in Facebook's Stop the Steal group. Its 300,000 members are sharing claims that fake ballots have been added to vote totals and that victories for Trump are not being announced to deny him the presidency,” one of the tweets read.

Several images and videos that have been debunked in the past were shared to make false claims about ballots. Edited and manipulated content was shared to assert the narrative of election tampering, NYT reported.

WHO CREATED THE FACEBOOK GROUP?

‘Women for America First’ is mentioned as the creator of ‘Stop the Steal’ Facebook group. It’s run by Amy Kremer, former Tea Party activist and co-founder of ‘Women for Trump’.

‘Stop the Steal’ Group Sows Election Misinformation, FB Bans It
(Photo Courtesy: Screenshot/Twitter)

According to the NYT report, in an interview on Thursday, Kremer said that she had created the group after having a conversation with conservative activists and reading posts on social media on voter fraud.

“I knew other people saw this the same as I did, that there were people out there trying to steal the election from the rightful person. I wanted us to be able to organise to take action,” she said.

Several other groups could be seen on Facebook that were on similar lines as that of ‘Stop the Steal’ group. On Thursday afternoon, a group was nearing 13,000 members as the members were increasing steadily, AP report mentioned.

(With inputs from The New York Times, Associated Press)

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