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Whatever you do on Facebook, make sure you don’t change your group name to mock deluded users who’ve gone all in on the baseless claim that voter fraud tipped the 2020 U.S. election to President-elect Joe Biden.
Facebook confirmed Monday that it removed a group, “Gay Communists for Socialism,” for misleading its users. The group was originally titled “Stop the Steal,” and was created after another “Stop the Steal” Facebook group went viral spreading election misinformation. The entire thing, at least when it came to the latter “Stop the Steal” group, was a setup.
As Rolling Stone reported on Friday, “Gay Communists for Socialism” (née “Stop the Steal”) was created explicitly as a honeypot. The idea was to attract confused conspiracy theorists looking for a place to revel in their delusions after Facebook shut down the initial “Stop the Steal” group on Thursday. Then, once it had grown to around 60,000 users, an admin of the reborn “Stop the Steal” group changed the group’s name to “Gay Communists for Socialism.”
“We’ve removed several clusters of activity for using inauthentic behavior tactics to artificially boost how many people saw their content,” a Facebook spokesperson confirmed via email. “That includes a Group that was originally named ‘Stop the Steal’ which later became ‘Gay Communists for Socialism’ and misled people about its purpose using deceptive tactics.”
As you might imagine, the name change didn’t sit well with group members — members who thought they’d signed up to perpetuate a dangerous lie and advocate violence instead found themselves associated with queer people (the horror!).
Screenshots of group members’ reactions, shared on Twitter, are quite the sight.
But alas, as of Monday the group is no more. And sure, Facebook can take down whatever group it wants to. That’s its prerogative.
The troubling part, though, is the company’s stated justification. As both election and coronavirus-related misinformation continue to spread on the social media platform, Facebook’s public justification for pulling “Gay Communists for Socialism” is not because people may have been using the group to actually spread misinformation, but rather because its group admins did a 180 with its name.
We can all rest easy, folks. When it comes to protecting democracy, Facebook is clearly on the case.