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Facebook Reportedly Tracks Surge of Violent Rhetoric Tied to Presidential Inauguration

CC0 / Pixelkult / Facebook logo and other social media apps are seen on a screen of mobile phone
Facebook logo and other social media apps are seen on a screen of mobile phone - Sputnik International
US President Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in Washington, DC, on January 6 to protest against the certification of the Electoral College, attempting to prevent Joe Biden from being confirmed as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. Five people died as a result of the incident.

According to an exclusive report by Reuters, Facebook has seen a surge in signals suggesting that acts of violence connected to efforts to contest the result of the US presidential election may occur in the future.

An unidentified Facebook spokesperson who spoke to Reuters on the matter said that the storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters appears to be inspiring efforts to organize gatherings across the country around the time of Biden’s January 20 inauguration. 

Some of the indicators Facebook has been tracking include digital flyers promoting such events. Some of the flyers feature “calls to arms or the insignia of militias or hate groups,” Reuters reported, citing the spokesperson.

Following the unrest, several tech companies have taken steps in an attempt to prevent anything like the January 6 riot from occurring again. Both Twitter and Facebook have banned Trump’s accounts over fears that his rhetoric may incite additional violence, and Amazon Web Services and major mobile app stores, such as those belonging to Apple and Google, have cut off service to Parler, an alternative social media platform with a largely right-wing user base. 

In the wake of the Capitol riot, Parler drew scrutiny due to some users' promotion of illegal activity, such as violence, on the platform.

On Monday, Facebook also banned all content promoting the phrase “stop the steal,” which has become a common slogan at pro-Trump protests, such as the one that preceded the riot in Washington, DC. The Facebook spokesperson told Reuters that the platform is also blocking searches for “storm the Capitol” and flagging any posts that include those phrases.

In an internal bulletin obtained by ABC News, the FBI warned this week that it is receiving warnings of “armed protests” in all 50 state capitols and the US Capitol in Washington, DC, next week.

"The FBI received information about an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, DC on 16 January," the bulletin reads. "They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment, a huge uprising will occur."

“While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, the FBI is supporting our state, local and federal law enforcement partners with maintaining public safety in the communities we serve,” the bureau noted in a statement obtained by the Associated Press. “Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity.”

As a result, federal law enforcement officials have urged police agencies to devote more resources to security at statehouses across the US.

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