Facebook has taken down a viral group with hundreds of thousands of members after “worrying calls for violence” and efforts to organize offline events in states where votes are still being counted. The group, called “Stop the Steal,” was just over 24 hours old and had already gained more than 300,000 members and was growing quickly, according to Vice News.
Group members used the platform to share conspiracy theories, like a debunked claim that using Sharpies invalidated ballots to favor Joe Biden over Donald Trump. Others encouraged an armed response to election results, while group admins reportedly organized offline events in states where votes are still being counted. It was these actions that apparently prompted a response from Facebook.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed the group was removed due to “worrying calls for violence,” from some of its members. "In line with the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension, we have removed the Group 'Stop the Steal,' which was creating real-world events. The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group."
The group is yet another example of the enormous pressure on social media companies to quickly address the wave of conspiracy theories and misinformation following the election. Facebook groups advocating violence has been an issue for the company in the past. The social network failed to take action on militia group advocating an armed response to protests in Wisconsin earlier this year, despite numerous user reports. Mark Zuckerberg later called it an “operational mistake.”