FACEBOOK GROUPS PIVOT TO ATTACKS ON BLACK LIVES MATTER

A loose network of Facebook groups that took root across the country in April to organize protests over coronavirus stay-at-home orders has become a hub of misinformation and conspiracy theories that have pivoted to a variety of new targets.

An Associated Press review of the most recent posts in 40 of these Facebook groups — most of which were launched by conservative groups or pro-gun activists — found the conversations largely shifted last month to attacking the nationwide protests over the killing of Black men and women after Floyd’s death.

Facebook users in some of these groups post hundreds of times a day in threads often seen by members only and shielded from public view.

Posts in these private groups are less likely to be scrutinized by Facebook or its independent fact-checkers, said Donovan.

Members in these private groups have created an echo chamber and tend to agree with the posts, so are therefore less likely to flag them for Facebook or fact-checkers to review, Donovan added.

At least one Facebook group, ReOpen PA, asked its 105,000 members to keep the conversation focused on reopening businesses and schools in Pennsylvania, and implemented rules to forbid posts about the racial justice protests as well as conspiracy theories about the efficacy of masks.

A member of the California Facebook group posted a widely debunked flyer that says “White men, women and children, you are the enemy,” which was falsely attributed to Black Lives Matter.

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