On Thursday afternoon, Facebook shut down “Stop the Steal,” a rapidly growing group attacking the integrity of the election and organizing protests against the legal counting of ballots in several key states. “The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process,” said a Facebook spokesperson, “and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group.” The spokesman added that the decision was in line with “the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension.” The group, “a hotbed of misinformation and conspiracy theories,” according to Slate, boasted more than more than 360,000 members after just one day. Mother Jones reported that “Stop the Steal” appeared “to be part of a coordinated campaign by Republican operatives, and has ties to the tea party.”
As votes continue to be counted in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and North Carolina, Donald Trump has only heightened tensions by recklessly tweeting misinformation about the electoral process, stoking fires of paranoia and mistrust. Trump’s Twitter account is now riddled with flagged tweets, each carrying the note that what’s been written is “misleading about an election or other civic process.” This hasn’t stopped the president from issuing false statements, and early Wednesday morning, he claimed victory in Arizona, North Carolina and Michigan. (None of those states were called at the time: the Associated Press, Fox News, and CNN now project Joe Biden won Michigan; the former two also called Arizona for Biden.) From the White House, Trump demanded that voting be stopped saying, “We don’t want them to find any ballots at four o’clock in the morning and add them to the list.” He continued by saying, “As far as I’m concerned, we already have won it.”
Both Twitter and Facebook announced a series of policies prior to November 3 as part of an effort to clamp down on the spread of misinformation in the crucial days following the election. While Twitter was able to flag Trump’s claim that the election was being stolen, according to the New York Times, “that didn’t stop more than 750 other Twitter accounts from trying to amplify Mr. Trump’s claims with the exact same message.” The site also flagged a tweet made by a Democratic Party official in Wisconsin who had claimed a state victory for Biden before it was called.
YouTube, which also set up policies designed to limit false election claims, has refused to take down a video which alleges that Democrats are currently partaking in election fraud. According to CNBC, the video, titled “Trump won,” was posted on Wednesday by the right-wing media organization One America News Network and shows anchor Christina Bobb saying “President Trump won four more years in the office last night.” In an email to CNBC, YouTube spokesperson Andrea Faville wrote, “Our Community Guidelines prohibit content misleading viewers about voting, for example content aiming to mislead voters about the time, place, means or eligibility requirements for voting. or false claims that could materially discourage voting.” She added that, “The content of this video doesn’t rise to that level, so it wasn’t removed.”
With Biden leading in the electoral college and several states still too close to call, the president is threatening legal action and continuing to peddle unfounded claims. “All of the recent Biden claimed States will be legally challenged by us for Voter Fraud and State Election Fraud. Plenty of proof — just check out the Media. WE WILL WIN! America First!.” The tweet was flagged with a link directing users to the platform’s 2020 election security efforts page.
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