Facebook has removed a series of pages linked to former Trump advisor Steve Bannon. The pages were removed after nonprofit organization Avaaz flagged them as spreading — and artificially amplifying — election-related misinformation under the “Stop The Steal” tag.
Facebook confirmed to The New York Times that it removed “several clusters of activity” late last week “for using inauthentic behavior tactics to artificially boost how many people saw their content.” That included pages tied to Bannon as well as a “Stop the Steal” group that lured Trump supporters into joining and then changed the title to “Gay Communists for Socialism.” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone says the group “misled people about its purpose using deceptive tactics.”
Avaaz says the network had a total of 2.45 million followers and its pages were linked through administrators, including Bannon and Brian Kolfage, his alleged co-conspirator in a fraud scheme. As Gizmodo explains, the pages pushed links to right-wing aggregation site Populist Press, apparently evading flags that Facebook had placed on the original URLs.
Bannon himself was banned from Twitter last week after posting a video calling for the death of immunologist Anthony Fauci and FBI director Christopher Wray. Facebook also removed a copy of the video.
Facebook has established election “war rooms” designed to fight misinformation, and it banned a huge “Stop the Steal” group after the 2020 presidential election. But Avaaz expressed dissatisfaction that the platform didn’t remove the Bannon-linked pages sooner. “If we can spot this stuff, a multi-billion dollar company with tens of thousands of employees focused on the election and disinformation most certainly can,” campaign director Fadi Quran told Gizmodo. “We are tired of doing their job for them.”