Facebook is removing all content with the phrase “stop the steal” ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, the company announced on Monday.
Facebook issued a statement saying that it was removing all content with the phrase, used by supporters of President Trump to question the outcome of the 2020 presidential election because it violates the company’s policy against “coordinating harm.” Facebook said that it made the decision in light of the pro-Trump riot in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“We are now removing content containing the phrase ‘stop the steal’ under our Coordinating Harm policy from Facebook and Instagram,” Facebook said in a statement. “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.”
“We’ve been allowing robust conversations related to the election outcome and that will continue,” the company added. “But with continued attempts to organize events against the outcome of the US presidential election that can lead to violence, 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. It may take some time to scale up our enforcement of this new step but we have already removed a significant number of posts.”
Last week, Facebook locked Trump’s accounts from posting content indefinitely. The temporary ban took place among a slew of other tech companies cracking down on accounts affiliated with Trump.
Facebook’s complete post may be read below:
We began preparing for Inauguration Day last year. But our planning took on new urgency after last week’s violence in Washington, D.C., and we are treating the next two weeks as a major civic event. 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.
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. We’ve been allowing robust conversations related to the election outcome and that will continue. But with continued attempts to organize events against the outcome of the US presidential election that can lead to violence, 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. It may take some time to scale up our enforcement of this new step but we have already removed a significant number of posts.
Our teams are working 24/7 to enforce our policies around the inauguration. We will keep our Integrity Operations Center operating at least through January 22 to monitor and respond to threats in real time. We already had it active ahead of Georgia’s runoff elections and Congress’s counting of the Electoral College votes in the US presidential election. We extended it due to the violence at the Capitol last week.
As was the case through the 2020 elections, we’ve continued to proactively reach out to federal and local law enforcement and we are providing information in response to valid legal requests. As always, we will continue to remove content, disable accounts and work with law enforcement when there is a risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety.
In addition to the indefinite suspension of President Trump’s account that we announced on January 7, we’re keeping our pause in place on all ads in the US about politics or elections. This means that we aren’t allowing any ads from politicians, including President Trump.
We are also connecting people with reliable information and high-quality news about the inauguration and the transition process. After the inauguration, our label on posts that attempt to delegitimize the election results will reflect that Joe Biden is the sitting president. Our Voting Information Center will stay active on Facebook and Instagram through the inauguration so it can continue to help people find reliable information and updates about the electoral process.
During inauguration week, we will add a news digest to Facebook News as a curated place for people to find reliable news about the inauguration. This will include live video of the inauguration at the US Capitol on January 20. Facebook News often includes news digests dedicated to events of national or global significance, such as “COVID-19” or “Unrest in America” with stories selected by the curation team. There will also be curated live video of the inauguration and other major moments on Facebook Watch.
We’ve had emergency measures in place since before the US elections such as not recommending civic groups for people to join. Last week, we implemented several additional ones, including increasing the requirement of Group admins to review and approve posts before they can go up, automatically disabling comments on posts in Groups that start to have a high rate of hate speech or content that incites violence, and using AI to further demote content that likely violates our policies. We’re keeping these measures in place.
We will stay vigilant to additional threats and take further action if necessary to keep people safe and informed.
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