Facebook Groups sent armed vigilantes to Kenosha. Your polling place could be next. - 2020-09-24
Three months after the 2016 election, in which Facebook facilitated the spread of fake news stories and disinformation from Russia, the company announced a pivot. Under pressure, Facebook laid out plans to "build a safe community that prevents harm" and "helps during crises," with "common understanding" and increased civic engagement. The company said the path to this better world would go through the platform's groups function, which Zuckerberg touted as a way to "support our personal, emotional and spiritual needs" and build "social fabric."
But instead of ushering in a new era of community and safety, the social media giant's decision to prioritize the discussion spaces bred disinformation and vigilantism. Facebook groups have been used to organize armed responses to this summer's protests that have turned deadly, a track record that suggests they could fuel chaos during or after this November's election, catalyzing violent reactions and disseminating destabilizing false information.
Instead of ushering in community and safety, Facebook groups bred disinformation and vigilantism.