Facebook Removed ‘Stop the Steal’ Group to Prevent ‘Violence or Civil Unrest’: Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies virtually before the House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law in Washington on July 29, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via Reuters)
BY GQ PAN

The Facebook group where supporters of President Donald Trump discussed allegations of voter fraud and organized rallies across the country was purged from the platform in an effort to prevent “violence or civil unrest,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg, alongside Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, testified Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee about their companies’ actions around the presidential election.

In the weeks leading up to the election, Facebook and Twitter actively blocked a New York Post report that contained allegations involving the foreign business dealings of Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s family. After the election, the social media giants faced backlash for labeling as misinformation some of Trump and his supporters’ posts questioning the legitimacy of the election results.

The most recent controversial action came last Thursday, when Facebook removed the “Stop the Steal” group, which at that point had amassed more than 350,000 members who discussed election fraud allegations and planned pro-Trump demonstrations across the United States.

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 07: Supporters of President Donald Trump demonstrate at a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally in front of the Maricopa County Elections Department office on November 7, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. The demonstration began at the State Capitol earlier in the day. News outlets project that Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States after a victory in Pennsylvania with Kamala Harris to be the first woman and person of color to be elected Vice President. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

When asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) if he believed the spread of skepticism about the election “may incite violence,” Zuckerberg replied that it is one of Facebook’s priorities to stop Trump supporters from organizing events that could lead to violence.

“I am very worried about this, especially any misinformation or content that could incite violence and during such a volatile period like this,” said Zuckerberg, who joined the hearing remotely. “One of our top priorities is making sure that people don’t use our platform to organize any violence or civil unrest, and that was the basis under which we took down that group, because there were a number of members that were posting potentially violent or encouraging violent comments that violated our policies.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who chairs the committee, said the two companies were biased against conservatives and right-leaning individuals. He suggested to revise the rule that protects the social media platforms from liability for content posted by their users.

“I think there’s Republican and Democratic concerns about the power that’s being used by social media outlets to tell us what we can see and what we can’t, what’s true and what’s not,” Graham said.

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