In another example of Facebook's ineptitude at stemming misinformation — during an election or otherwise — a group the entire purpose of which was to delegitimize the election and ballot-counting process was able to flourish for a full day and amplify Trump's lies before being taken down.
#StoptheSteal is a movement that was created out of whole cloth by Trump operatives on Wednesday — NBC News reports that these are some of the same people who were behind the #WeBuildTheWall fundraising site that later turned out to be a money-laundering operation.
As the New York Times reports, the Stop the Steal Facebook group was created Wednesday afternoon, and despite being removed from searchability by Facebook, it still took less than 24 hours for other pro-Trump groups and social media users to amplify it and allow it to quickly amass around 350,000 followers before being shut down over "worrying calls for violence from some members of the group." The fact that its entire purpose was to promote the Trump camp's brazenly dishonest narrative about mail-in votes not being legitimate, or about Trump votes not being counted, was not enough of a reason to shut it down apparently — despite the company's year-long series of promises that it would not allow misinformation like this around the election.
The group helped to make a video viral that showed a group of protesters chanting "stop the count" outside a Detroit ballot-counting center on Wednesday.
Infuriatingly, there was apparently internal debate at Facebook and among Facebook leadership on Thursday over whether to kill the group off. One employee gave a comment to NBC saying, "People are frustrated and tired, and are looking for leadership to be decisive. So far, we’re disappointed."
The Times says that Stop the Steal was one of the fastest-growing groups in Facebook history, at one point gaining 10 new members every second.
A Facebook spokesperson, Tom Reynolds, then had the audacity to brag about how the company finally took the group down saying it was part of the company's "exceptional measures" to prevent users (and the president) from delegitimizing the election itself. Too late!
The group was started by Women for America First and Atlanta-based Tea Party activist Kylie Jane Kremer, who told the Times, "I knew other people saw this the same as I did, that there were people out there trying to steal the election from the rightful person." Mother Jones first reported on the rise of the group.
Other admins for the group, as NBC News notes, included administrators Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence, who served as the public relations contacts for #WeBuildTheWall. Stockton lashed out at an NBC reporter when reached for comment saying that NBC reporters were "doing the devil’s work and need redemption." He went on to say, "I have spent years of my life helping people NOT become radicalized by giving them positive objectives and platforms. That’s what we’re doing at 'Stop The Steal,' undoing the incredible damage of you and your media colleagues’ gaslighting."