Facebook to remove all ‘Stop the Steal’ content from platform

Biba Adams

In the wake of all the election-fraud lies, Facebook is ramping up its campaign to end misinformation on its pages.

Social media giant Facebook is ramping up its campaign to end misinformation on its platforms.

The company will remove any content that includes the phrase “Stop the steal” on both Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appears on a monitor as he testifies remotely during October’s virtual Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee “Does Section 230’s Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?” hearing on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appears on a monitor as he testifies remotely during October’s virtual Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee “Does Section 230’s Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?” hearing on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

The move comes after last week’s insurrection at Capitol Hill which saw five people killed, including a Capitol police officer.

In a blog post authored by Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of Integrity, and Monika Bickert, its vice president of Global Policy Management, the company officials wrote about its title: “Our Preparations Ahead of Inauguration Day.”

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“We’re taking additional steps and using the same teams and technologies we used during the general election to stop misinformation and content that could incite further violence during these next few weeks,” their post reads. “We are now removing content containing the phrase ‘stop the steal’ under our Coordinating Harm policy from Facebook and Instagram.”

“We removed the original Stop the Steal group in November and have continued to remove Pages, groups and events that violate any of our policies, including calls for violence,” it continues. “We’ve been allowing robust conversations related to the election outcome and that will continue.”

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“But with continued attempts to organize events against the outcome of the US presidential election that can lead to violence,” the two contend, “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.”

In October, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive officer, testified in front of Congress — remotely, of course, because of the coronavirus epidemic — about changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Zuckerberg was grilled for over four hours, where he noted “we support the ideas around transparency and industry collaboration that are being discussed in some of the current bipartisan proposals.”

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The company supports the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act, under which internet platforms would have to disclose their moderation standards and establish a formal takedown appeals system. They would also have to remove court-ordered illegal content within 24 hours.

The PACT Act has yet to come up for a vote. According to VERGE, the act, if approved, “would force large tech platforms to explain how they moderate content in a way that is easily accessible to users.”

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Republicans have criticized social media companies as intentionally removing conservative content disproportionately from liberal content. The PACT Act is one of several that may appear before the new Congress and new Democratic leadership. Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed social media being “ripe” for reform. Until change is passed in Congress, that reform is falling on the companies themselves.

Even without a legislative mandate, Facebook will enact the removal of “stop the steal” content on its pages and on Instagram.

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The Rosen-Bickert blog post notes the platforms cooperate actively with both federal and local law enforcement, and they disable accounts that pose any threat of physical harm or direct threat to public safety.

Facebook will continue the indefinite suspension of President Donald Trump’s account. They have also paused all ads about politics or elections.

The social media site will create a “news digest” for users to get “reliable news” about the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20.

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