SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Before Facebook Inc FB. To shut down a fast-growing Stop the Steal Facebook group on Thursday, the forum urged members to prepare their weapons in case President Donald Trump loses his offer to stay in the White House.
In deactivating the group following reporting by Reuters and other news organizations, Facebook cited the forum’s efforts to delegitimize the electoral process and « worrying calls for violence by some members ». ”
Such rhetoric was not uncommon in the run-up to the elections in Facebook groups, but it was a crucial factor in the engagement of the largest social network in the world, but it was not always treated equally.
A survey by U. . S.. . Facebook-based groups between September and October, conducted by digital intelligence firm CounterAction at Reuters’ request, found rhetoric with violent overtones in thousands of politically-minded public groups with millions of members.
Variations of twenty phrases that could be associated with calls for violence, such as « Lock and Load » and « We need a civil war, » appeared along with references to election results in about 41. 000 cases in U. . S.. . -based Facebook public groups over the two month period.
Other expressions such as « shoot them » and « kill them all » became at least 7 in public groups, according to CounterAction. 345 times or. 1. Used 415 times. « Hang him » was released 8. 132 times. « Time to shoot folks, » read one comment.
Facebook said it is reviewing CounterAction results, which Reuters shared with the company, and will take steps to enforce policies « that reduce the damage and unrest in the real world, including in groups, » according to it a statement by spokeswoman Dani Lever.
The company declined to say whether examples shared by Reuters are against its rules or where it draws the line in deciding whether a phrase « incites or instigates serious violence » which, according to its policy, is grounds for removal.
Prosecutors have linked several disrupted militia plans to Facebook groups this year, including a planned attack on Black Lives Matters protesters in Las Vegas and a plan to kidnap the Michigan governor.
To address concerns, Facebook announced a series of policy changes since the summer aimed at curbing « militarized social movements, » including U.. S.. . Militias, boogaloo networks, and the QAnon conspiracy movement.
As pressure increased on the company ahead of the elections, Zuckerberg said Facebook would pause recommendations for political groups and new groups, although that move didn’t stop the Stop the Steal group from doing less than 365 days. 000 members to more than 365. 000 members grow 24 hours.
Facebook has been aggressively promoting groups since Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg made them a strategic priority in 2017. They said they would encourage « more meaningful connections, » and this year the business featured in a Super Bowl commercial.
Last month, advertising for groups in newsfeeds and search engine results increased, despite civil rights groups warning that the product had become a breeding ground for extremism and misinformation.
The public groups can be seen, searched and connected by anyone on Facebook. Groups also offer private options that hide posts – or the existence of the forum – even if a group has hundreds of thousands of members.
Facebook has stated that it relies heavily on artificial intelligence to monitor the forums, especially private groups that provide few user reports of bad behavior, as members tend to be like-minded to flag posts that can lead to violent actions by human content reviewers.
While violent language use doesn’t always equate to an actionable threat, Matthew Hindman, a machine learning and media scientist at George Washington University who reviewed the results, said Facebook’s artificial intelligence should be able to express common terms to select for review.
« If you still find thousands of cases of » shooting « and » getting a rope « then the problem is systemic. A modern machine learning system would definitely not miss something like that, ”he said.
(This story is being rewritten to correct typos in paragraphs 8 and 12, and the Zuckerberg title is mentioned first in paragraph 12. )
All offers were delayed by at least 15 minutes. A full list of exchanges and delays can be found here.
Donald Trump, US Presidential Election, 2020, Joe Biden
World News – CA – Thousands of Facebook groups have been filled with calls for violence in front of U.. . S.. . choice
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