Speed Reads

more facebook fallout

How Facebook became a 'key vector' in the lead-up to Jan. 6

An investigation from The Washington Post and ProPublica has revealed how Facebook groups "swelled" between Election Day and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot with hundreds of thousands of sometimes-violent posts attacking the 2020 election and President Biden's victory. 

The deluge averaged at least 10,000 posts a day, and turned the social network's group communities into "incubators" for fraudulent claims, and the social network itself into a "key vector" for spreading the narratives that led to the attack, writes the Post.

Furthermore, Facebook's efforts to monitor toxic election content in its groups were "ineffective" and "started too late," the Post notes, especially considering the network dissolved a task force meant to police communities ahead of the 2020 vote shortly thereafter.

The result — "during the nine increasingly tense weeks that led up to Jan. 6, the groups were inundated with posts attacking the legitimacy of Biden's election, while the pace of removals noticeably slowed," the Post writes. Content removals picked up again after the Capitol attack, though many groups and their posts nonetheless "remained on the site for months after."

"Facebook took its eye off the ball in the interim time between Election Day and January 6," one ex-Facebook employee who worked on the groups task force told the Post. "There was a lot of violating content that did appear on the platform that wouldn't otherwise have."

Other workers flagged the fact that a special team was even needed to remove problematic group content as a failure. Said another task force employee: "You could make a good argument that this should have already been done."

A company spokesperson denied Facebook slowed efforts to combat political misinformation or violence after the election, and rejected the notion that Facebook is at all responsible for the riot. Read more at The Washington Post.