Technology

Barrage of Facebook group posts attacked legitimacy of Biden win ahead of Jan. 6: analysis

Users wrote at least 650,000 Facebook group posts attacking the legitimacy of President Biden’s electoral victory between Election Day and the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to an investigation conducted by ProPublica and The Washington Post. 

An average of at least 10,000 daily posts on the social media platform at times fueled false claims that the election result was fraudulent and required action to protect the nation, the Post reported. 

“LOOKS LIKE CIVIL WAR is BECOMING INEVITABLE !!!” one post from a month before Jan. 6 said, according to the analysis. “WE CANNOT ALLOW FRAUDULENT ELECTIONS TO STAND ! SILENT NO MORE MAJORITY MUST RISE UP NOW AND DEMAND BATTLEGROUND STATES NOT TO CERTIFY FRAUDULENT ELECTIONS NOW !” 

“WE WILL HAVE CIVIL WAR IN THE STREETS BEFORE BIDEN WILL BE PRES,” another said.

Former President Trump repeatedly claimed that the 2020 election was tainted by widespread voter fraud. Trump and his allies also mounted many unsuccessful legal challenges to overturn the election in swing states. 

Federal and state elections officials have stated that there was no substantial evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. 

Other posts called for executions or violence against political officials of both parties. According to the report, one post included an image of a gallows with more than a dozen nooses and hooded figures ready to be hanged. 

Footage from the Jan. 6 insurrection showed rioters who entered the Capitol chanting to hang then-Vice President Mike Pence. Others could be heard looking for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on the day. 

The Post noted that there were probably more than 650,000 posts found during that time period. The analysis examined posts in only a portion of public Facebook groups and did not take into account comments and posts in private groups or individual profiles. 

Leading up to the presidential election, Facebook removed posts with violent or hateful content, but it rolled such efforts and slowed its enforcement tactics in the weeks afterward, before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The roll back of these monitoring efforts resulted in an increase in posts regarding the 2020 election, according to the report. 

A spokesperson for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, downplayed its roll in the Jan. 6 attack. 

“The notion that the January 6 insurrection would not have happened but for Facebook is absurd,” Drew Pusateri, a spokesman from Meta, said in a statement to the Post.

“The former President of the United States pushed a narrative that the election was stolen, including in-person a short distance from the Capitol building that day. The responsibility for the violence that occurred on January 6 lies with those who attacked our Capitol and those who encouraged them,” Pusateri added.

Biden himself has lashed out at Facebook over vaccine misinformation on the platform. However, he subsequently clarified his remarks that the platform was “killing people.” 

The Hill has reached out to Facebook for comment.

Tags capitol jan 6 riot Donald Trump Facebook Joe Biden Mike Pence Nancy Pelosi

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