Facebook targets “stop the steal” content ahead of Inauguration Day

Facebook is ramping up content moderation efforts with “new urgency.”
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Facebook is working "24/7" to tackle content including "stop the steal" from spreading across the network ahead of the US Inauguration Day.

With the scenes at the Capitol building fresh in our minds and as US police continue to hunt down rioters involved in the siege, thoughts have turned toward the upcoming inauguration, when President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office on January 20.

The FBI has warned states of potentially armed protests ahead of and during the event, and in an attempt to prevent Facebook from becoming a means to incite further violence, the social network has begun preparing for Inauguration Day with "new urgency."

According to Guy Rosen and Monika Bickert, Facebook VPs of Integrity and Global Policy Management, the company has assessed the next two weeks as a "major civic event."

On January 11, the duo said the same teams used to tackle inappropriate content ahead of the US election are now in place to try and stop the spread of misinformation, conspiracies, and violent content. 

Facebook is now targeting "stop the steal," a phrase used by Trump supporters who believe the election was stolen, on both the main network and Instagram. In the lead up ahead of the inauguration, Facebook is going beyond taking down the original stop the steal group and will now remove related pages, groups, and events that may be used to encourage violence. 

"It may take some time to scale up our enforcement of this new step but we have already removed a significant number of posts," the company says. 

Facebook will also provide information to law enforcement when "legitimate" requests are made and will delete any content considered a "direct threat to public safety."

During inauguration week, the tech giant will launch a Facebook News digest relating to the event as a source for legitimate news, in a similar manner to the hub launched for COVID-19. 

Facebook intends to maintain a block on US political or election-related adverts, including ads submitted by politicians. 

"We will stay vigilant to additional threats and take further action if necessary to keep people safe and informed," Facebook says. 

Facebook also announced the hire of Roy Austin to help lead a new civil rights organization within Facebook. Austin is a Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP civil rights attorney who will take the posts of VP of Civil Rights and Deputy General Counsel for the social network, starting January 19. 

Twitter, too, is taking action in an attempt to stop content being shared across the microblogging platform to "incite violence, organize attacks, and share deliberately misleading information about the election outcome."

The company is permanently suspending accounts -- the most high-profile of late being that belonging to US President Trump (@realDonaldTrump) -- and in total, since Friday, a further 70,000 accounts have been wiped out. 

According to Twitter, in some cases, a single individual would control multiple accounts in order to spread QAnon content. 

"Accounts that have tweeted or retweeted [QAnon] associated content will continue to be subject to limited visibility across search, replies, and on timelines and are prohibited from being recommended to others by Twitter," the company says. 

Twitter has also stopped tweets issued a warning label for violating civic integrity policies from being replied to, liked, or retweeted, although Quote Tweet is still active. 

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