Facebook employee warned of spike in company's internal 'violence and incitement trends' metric during election week

Jeva Lange
·2 min read

Facebook's internal monitoring of "violence and incitement trends" showed a 45 percent spike based on hashtags and search terms during the days immediately before and after the presidential election, BuzzFeed News reports. The metric had an average score of around 400 on Oct. 31, rising to nearly 580 as of Thursday morning.

Facebook has faced heavy criticism over the years for not doing more to curb the spread of conspiracies on its platform. The social media website recently cracked down on QAnon groups, and in the aftermath of the election, deleted a fast-growing pro-Trump Facebook group that falsely purported Democrats were trying to steal the election. Around the country, Trump supporters have gathered to protest the election results, and in some cases, cities have potentially thwarted attacks on election officials.

BuzzFeed News is the first to report the existence of the internal "violence and incitement" metric at Facebook. The recent spike was apparently triggered by gains made in "some conspiracy theory and general unhappiness posts/hashtags," according to an assessment by one employee. "The 'probable violence and incitement' metric for Explore has been slowly rising over the last few days," the employee had warned his or her colleagues. "The risky hashtags seem conspiracy-theory-esque."

A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed that the company is keeping tabs on developments, without speaking of the violence and incitement meter directly. "We're staying vigilant in detecting content that could incite violence during this time of heightened uncertainty," she said. "We've readied products and policies in advance of this period so we can take action quickly and according to our plans." Read the whole scoop at BuzzFeed News.

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