Facebook bans ‘STOP THE STEAL’ group behind counting protests

Over 300,000 people joined 'STOP THE STEAL' that aimed at discrediting election results in support of President Donald Trump.

The Facebook group behind the ‘STOP THE STEAL’ movement was banned from the social media platform.

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According to the Washington Post, the group which organized over 360,000 members, was shut down on Thursday for its efforts to promote a baseless conspiracy theory and in-person demonstrations at vote-counting facilities. Amy Kremer, a former congressional candidate in Georgia and a co-founder and co-chair of Women for Trump, used one Facebook page called Women for America First to encourage users to join “STOP THE STEAL.”

Trump Supporters Hold "Stop The Steal" Protest At Pennsylvania State Capitol
HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA – NOVEMBER 05: Dozens of people calling for stopping the vote count in Pennsylvania due to alleged fraud against President Donald Trump gather on the steps of the State Capital on November 05, 2020 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The activists, many with flags and signs for Trump, have made allegations that votes are being stolen from the president as the race in Pennsylvania continues to tighten in Joe Biden’s favor. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

“We need boots on the ground to protect the integrity of the vote,” the Facebook group asserted before being removed according to the Post. Group members also encouraged monetary donations to secure flights and hotels for people willing to travel and support their cause. The group hoped to get members on the ground in Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. “STOP THE STEAL” was also listed as a co-host on 12 different protest events advertised on Facebook, including a caravan event in California.

“We are on the verge of civil war due to those types of people,” one user wrote according to the news outlet. “You cannot reason with them or convince them to stop and reunite as they are dead set on total destruction of our nation. So I ask you, what are you prepared to do?”

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Facebook spokesman Andy Stone informed the Washington Post the group’s messages calling for violence factored into the ban.

“The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group,” Stone said in a statement according to the news outlet.

Hashtags relative to the now-banned group were also prohibited from Facebook, however, at least 60 different “STOP THE STEAL” campaign or related events were being promoted on Thursday evening the Post reported. Members of the group were prepared for potential action from Facebook and moved their conversations to MeWe, a messaging app that the Post reported as favored by militia groups.

MeWe CEO Mark Weinstein however, said “haters, trolls, violence inciters, and worse are easily found on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the rest,” in a statement.

“MeWe is home to upstanding, diverse members, and has ‘open group’ communities of all kinds created by its members. Popular group categories include sports, music, technology, entertainment, video games, fitness, health, travel, politics, and foodies. All groups must adhere to MeWe’s strict TOS and are monitored by MeWe’s Trust and Safety Team who will swiftly remove them if any TOS-violations are found. MeWe’s TOS is clear: haters, bullies, lawbreakers, and people promoting threats and violence are not welcome,” said Weinstein in the memo.

“MeWe is unlike networks such as 8Chan or Gab which have an “anything goes” policy that allows hate speech and hate groups.”

Election workers count ballots on November 03, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After a record-breaking early voting turnout, Americans headed to the polls today on the last day to cast their vote for incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Chris Barron, a representative of Kremer, claimed the Facebook group “spoke volumes about how concerned people are,” speaking out about the ban according to the report.

theGrio previously reported Facebook, Twitter and YouTube prepared for an unprecedented election. The digital platforms invested billions of dollars into new security plans to prevent being implicated in election issues.

“Of course, we’re taking the elections incredibly seriously,” Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer, said according to the report. “The foundational work that will play a really major role for all of this began three years ago when we really began the work in earnest in terms of our responsibility as a global platform.” 

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