Facebook shuts down “Stop the Steal” group
San Francisco, Nov 5 (efe-epa).- Facebook announced Thursday that it had shut down the “Stop the Steal” group, made up virtually exclusively of supporters of President Donald Trump and actively trying to cast doubt on the vote count in the wake of the Nov. 3 election, with the social media giant saying that the group had issued “worrying calls for violence.”
The group, created on the evening of Nov. 3, was gaining new members at a very high rate at a time when the US is on tenterhooks because it is not known who will be the next president, although media outlets have put Democratic candidate Joe Biden ahead in the projected Electoral College vote by 264-214 over Trump.
“Stop the Steal” takes the same stance as the president, who is running for reelection and says that the vote count is being manipulated against him, despite the fact that there is no evidence of that, and is calling for “boots on the ground to protect the integrity of the vote,” with pro-Trump people heading to polling places in Arizona and Michigan.
“In line with the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension, we have removed the Group ‘Stop the Steal,’ which was creating real-world events,” Facebook said in a statement. “The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group.”
The group had attracted more than 300,000 members on Facebook within the past two days and was being used to call for and organize protests claiming that Biden is attempting to “steal” the election.
One of the group’s organizers, conservative activist Amy Kremer, complained on Twitter about Facebook’s decision to shut down the group, saying that “The left is trying to steal an election and Social media is complicit. This is outrageous!”
Trump’s reelection campaign has launched a legal offensive to stop Biden’s forward motion, given that the Democrat is on the verge of winning the White House after top US media outlets reported and projected that he had won the popular vote in several key states, in addition to the traditionally “blue” (Democratic) states he had been expected to win.
The president’s campaign has filed a number of lawsuits to challenge the electoral process in various states, the ongoing vote count and other issues with an eye toward short-circuiting Biden’s anticipated win in the Electoral College, where 270 votes are needed to win the presidency and the former vice president at present has been deemed to have won 264 and Trump 214.
Biden is also ahead at this point by about 3.5 million votes in the nationwide popular vote count and appears to have garnered the most votes of any presidential candidate in history.
Trump on Thursday took to Twitter to demand that the vote count be stopped in certain states, while Biden demanded just the opposite: that all valid ballots be counted.
The two men posted their divergent messages on Twitter as all eyes are on the vote counts in Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Arizona, in the latter of which certain media outlets have already projected a Biden victory, although Trump appears to be narrowing the former vice president’s lead as the vote count proceeds.
Resorting to all capital letters in two consecutive Twitter messages, Trump wrote: “STOP THE COUNT!” and “ANY VOTE THAT CAME IN AFTER ELECTION DAY WILL NOT BE COUNTED!”
When asked about the significance of that assertion, the president’s campaign spokesman, Jason Miller, told reporters that Trump does not want the counting of ballots that arrived by mail to continue, although some 65 million Americans – including Trump himself – voted by mail during this election cycle to avoid Election Day crowds and waiting in line at the polling places amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump has positioned himself against counting mail-in ballots because the data show that Democrats used that method to a greater extent than Republicans, with most GOP supporters preferring to wait to cast their ballots last Tuesday on Election Day.
Meanwhile, Biden wrote on Twitter that “Every vote must be counted,” accompanying this message with a video urging that all votes be counted and in which a white woman and a black man are featured.
In another tweet, Biden wrote: “Donald Trump does not decide the outcome of this election and nor do I. The American people decide. That’s why we’ve launched the Biden Fight Fund – to ensure every vote is counted.”