Facebook is banning all mentions of 'stop the steal'

Stop the Steal placard

In the run-up to Inauguration Day, and in the wake of violent events at the Capitol last week, tensions are running high in the US. With numerous social media platforms having banned outgoing president Trump from using their services, Facebook has now announced that it is banning a phrase that has become strongly associated with right-wing conspiracy theories about election fraud.

Having already removed a group called Stop the Steal a couple of months ago, Facebook is now going to be removing all content that uses these words. The phrase "stop the steal" is effectively banned on both Facebook and Instagram, and the company says that it will be working around the clock to enforce its policies until after president-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.

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The move is likely to anger Trump supporters, some of whom have been spreading unfounded allegations that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and undemocratic. This is a conspiracy theory Donald Trump has been vocal about on Twitter, and it was something that featured prominently at the storming of the Capitol. In clamping down on the use of the phrase "stop the steal" Facebook is hoping to help avoid a repeat of the violent clashes as Trump leaves office.

In an announcement about the decision, Facebook says: "We began preparing for Inauguration Day last year. But our planning took on new urgency after last week's violence in Washington, D.C., and we are treating the next two weeks as a major civic event. 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."

Guy Rosen and Monika Bickert from the social network go on to explain:

We are now removing content containing the phrase "stop the steal" under our Coordinating Harm policy from Facebook and Instagram. We removed the original Stop the Steal group in November and have continued to remove Pages, groups and events that violate any of our policies, including calls for violence. We've 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. It may take some time to scale up our enforcement of this new step but we have already removed a significant number of posts.

Image credit: Brandi Lyon Photography / Shutterstock

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