Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of a House of Representatives committee that his company had done its part “to secure the integrity of the election.” While the social network did not catch everything, the billionaire chief executive said, Facebook had “made our services inhospitable to those who might do harm” in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Less than a week after his appearance, however, an internal company report reached a far different conclusion: Facebook failed to stop a highly influential movement from using its platform to delegitimize the election, encourage violence, and help incite the Capitol riot.
Shared on Facebook’s employee communication platform last month, the report is a blunt assessment of how people connected to “Stop the Steal,” a far-right movement based on the conspiracy theory that former president Donald Trump won the 2020 US presidential election, used the social network to foment an attempted coup. The document explicitly states that Facebook activity from people connected to Stop the Steal and other Trump loyalist groups including the Patriot Party played a role in the events of Jan. 6, and that the company’s emphasis on rooting out fake accounts and “inauthentic behavior” held it back from taking preemptive action when real people were involved. [Continue reading…]