Facebook, as part of its preparations ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s Inauguration, is removing all content containing the phrase “stop the steal,” and is treating the two weeks leading up to the ceremony as a “major civic event.”
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Facebook's Vice President of Integrity Guy Rosen and Vice President of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert said the company began preparing for Inauguration Day last year, but said the planning “took on new urgency after last week’s violence in Washington D.C.”
“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,” they said in a statement.
“We are now removing content containing the phrase “stop the steal” under our Coordinating Harm policy from Facebook and Instagram,” they continued.
Facebook removed the original “Stop the Steal” group in November, and has continued to remove Pages, groups and events that violate its policies, including calls for violence.
Company executives did say, though, that they have 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,” they said. “It may take some time to scale up our enforcement of this new step but we have already removed a significant number of posts.”
“Stop the Steal” refers to President Trump’s baseless charges of widespread voter fraud and claims that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him.
Facebook, on Monday, said they have continued to “proactively reach out to federal and local law enforcement” and 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,” they said.
Meanwhile, last week Facebook suspended Trump from the platform, after he posted a video telling pro-Trump protesters to “go home” after storming the Capitol, yet maintained that he won the 2020 presidential election in a landslide.
The following day, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Trump would be blocked from the platform “indefinitely,” saying that they believe “the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.”
On Monday, Facebook said they are keeping a pause in place on all ads in the United States about politics or elections, clarifying that they “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,” Facebook said. “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.”
“We will stay vigilant to additional threats and take further action if necessary to keep people safe and informed,” they added.
The moves come after last week’s Capitol riot, which left five people dead, including one Capitol Police officer.
Pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, sending Congress into recess and the Capitol building into lockdown as members attempted to certify the results of the presidential election in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.
The president spoke earlier in the day in Washington at a rally to supporters, who later marched to the Capitol. He further pressured Vice President Mike Pence to act on his own to decertify the results of the election and send them back to the states for recertification.
Pence, before the joint session of Congress began, said he did not believe, under the Constitution, that he had the authority to "unilaterally" accept or reject electoral votes.
As members of the House and Senate debated and raised objections to certain electoral votes, both chambers were forced to recess and evacuate their chambers as protesters stormed the Capitol, damaging property and sending it into lockdown for hours.
The Justice Department has charged more than a dozen people involved in the riots and dozens more have been charged in Superior Court in Washington D.C. with unlawful entry, curfew violations and firearms-related crimes.
Last month, President Trump promised supporters a "wild" protest in D.C. on Jan. 6.