How 'Stop the Steal' organizers are still outsmarting Facebook's content moderators

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Kathryn Streeter
·2 min read
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Facebook may have banned President Trump, but his followers are still gaming the site to spread election fraud conspiracies and downright dangerous disinformation.

Despite Facebook officials' attempts to play down the site's role in organizing last week's Capitol riot, it's clear plenty of Facebook groups and users spread conspiracies and even used the site to fill buses to Washington, D.C. Even after the site started cracking down on the organizers last week, at least 90 "Stop the Steal" groups have remained operating under altered names, while users exploit Facebook's features to spread disinformation other years, CNN reports via research from extremism experts at the activist group Avaaz.

Facebook instituted a blanket ban on "Stop the Steal" content earlier this week. But groups and users have quickly changed gears, rebranding their pages as "'Stop the Fraud' or 'Stop the Rigged Election' or 'Own the Vote,'" Avaaz campaign director Fadi Quran told CNN.

Stories, one of Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram's most popular features, has also helped far-right users spread disinformation undetected. Stories disappear after 24 hours, and Avaaz found accounts with "tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of followers," are "inviting people to events such as the insurrection" using those temporary message boards, Quran said. And despite Facebook's claims that the site "does not profit from hate," BuzzFeed News found earlier this week that Facebook allowed firearms and military gear sellers to target ads to people involved in far-right and militia groups, even placing their ads right next to posts planning the uprising.

A Facebook spokesperson said the site banned three of the groups after being notified of their activity, and has cracked down on white supremacist and QAnon groups. Its recent ban on Stop the Steal content will take longer to ramp up, the spokesperson said. Read more at CNN.

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