Facebook says it is intervening to suppress false allegations about who allegedly caused forest fires in Oregon.
Law enforcement has been inundated with calls about rumors online that members of Antifa, an often far-left anti-fascist movement, have been arrested for starting fires statewide.
“Reports that extremists are starting wildfires in Oregon is false,” the Portland FBI said in a tweet Friday.
Since the FBI and other law enforcement agencies confirmed the allegations to be false, Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said the platform will work to suppress the rumors.
“This is consistent with our past efforts to remove content that could cause imminent harm, given the possible risk to human life, as fires rage,” Stone said of the decision.
Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter have faced tremendous pressure in recent years to tackle the spread of disinformation on their platforms.
Claims that people associated with the anti-fascist movement started the fires arose when the anonymous account behind QAnon posted a link to a tweet from Paul Joseph Romero Jr., former Republican candidate for the US Senate in Oregon, claiming that the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office had six Antifa “arsonists” in custody.
It only took a few hours for the rumors to be shared by the followers of QAnon.
Speaking to CNN on Saturday, Romero said, “My original tweet is not 100% accurate, there is no doubt about it, but it is partially true.”
The latter assured that he was not a follower of QAnon and that he did not plan to delete the tweet.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office urges the public to follow official sources of information and reputable local media.
In a Facebook post, the office pleaded, “Do your part, STOP THE SPREAD OF RUMORS!”
At least 33 people have died in the fires that burned more than 875,000 acres across the state.