Facebook seems to have deleted a “Spot the Steal” group from its website. The group’s goal was to convince its members to get involved in the vote count. Membership in the group skyrocketed in the days following the election, winning over 300,000 people within two days.
The nonprofit organization Sleeping Giants announced the news that the site had been shut down on their Twitter account. While the group itself is still visible in Google searches, the Facebook page shows that the “content is currently unavailable”.
CONFIRMS: The âStop the Stealâ page, which urged organizations to disrupt the vote count, was taken down by @facebook. https://t.co/7nGFf9wvtr
– Sleeping giants (@slpng_giants) November 5, 2020
The group was founded by Amy Kremer, the founder of the conservative organization Women for America First. Kremer tweeted when the group was removed and called it “outrageous. She said the social media was “complicit” in “The Left is trying to steal an election,” even though her organization seems to want to stop the democratic process of counting every vote.
The organization has launched a website where it asks for donations and calls for “boots on the ground”. Although it does not explicitly say what it expects from these boots in the field, before linking to the donations page, it says that resources are needed “from legal and communications to travel and technology.
“Democrats plan to disenfranchise and invalidate Republican votes. It’s up to us, the American people, to fight and stop it,” the site says.
Although the large group has been eliminated, a number of similar, smaller groups have emerged, some of which are concentrating their efforts to disrupt elections locally, while others appear to be more nationally oriented.
The largest group has about 2,000 members (and growing) and is trying to achieve a similar dynamic as the original group. One post tries to warn people in the group how to protect them from being deleted, including a warning that it will be privatized in three days. Another post said that the group will be privatized once 10,000 people join.
In October, Facebook announced that one of its goals for the election was to “protect the integrity of the election by fighting foreign interference, misinformation and voter oppression.
Facebook’s October press release stated that it would also delete content that promotes voter intimidation, probably exactly what those behind the #StoptheSteal groups are trying to do. “[W]e will also delete calls for election observation if these calls use militarized language or suggest that the goal is to intimidate, control or show power over election workers or voters,” the announcement said.
In a statement received by Washington Newsday, a Facebook spokesperson explained why the group was deleted. “In keeping with the extraordinary measures we are taking at this time of heightened tension, we have removed the Stop theft group that was causing real events. The group was organized around delegitimizing the electoral process, and we saw disturbing calls for violence from some members of the group,” said the spokesperson.