Facebook Blocks Creation of Events Near Capitol, Halts Ads for Weapons in Lead-Up to Inauguration Day

Following the recent unrest at the US Capitol Building, Facebook is taking extra precautions around Inauguration Day, amid suggestions that Trump supporters may be looking to disrupt the event in a last-ditch effort to overturn the 2020 election result.

Or worse. According to reports, it seems that some of Trump’s passionate supporters could be seeking to cause chaos at the inauguration, in response to Trump’s loss in the November poll. This comes after Trump spent months perpetuating the unfounded narrative that the election was ‘stolen’ from him, with votes illegally added in order to hand victory to Joe Biden instead.

In order to counter the potential threat of further violence, and division within US society, Facebook has announced some tough measures to ensure that its platforms are not being used to organize or contribute to such.

First off, Facebook is blocking the creation of any new Facebook events in close proximity to the White House, the US Capitol building or any of the state capitol buildings through Inauguration Day.

“Our operations center is also conducting a secondary review of all Facebook events related to the inauguration and removing ones that violate our policies. And, as we did in the lead up to and following the US presidential election, we are continuing to block event creation in the US by non-US based accounts and Pages.”

The creation of events by foreign operators was just one of the tactics used by Russia’s Internet Research Agency in the lead-up to the 2016 election. In those instances, the IRA set-up counter-protests in the same location via Facebook events, in order to stoke further division, and spark real-life conflicts within the US.

In addition to this, Facebook’s also restricting access to certain tools for people in the US who’ve repeatedly violated platform policies.

“These restrictions include blocking these accounts from creating live videos or creating an event, Group or Page.”

That will mean that users who’ve already been linked to QAnon groups and Pages, which Facebook began removing earlier this year, will likely be unable to use the platform to promote their own protest actions.

Going further, Facebook has also announced a ban on all ads that promote weapon accessories and protective equipment in the US, through to at least January 22nd.

“We already prohibit ads for weapons, ammunition and weapon enhancements like silencers. But we will now also prohibit ads for accessories such as gun safes, vests and gun holsters in the US.”

Which, in many ways, is a frightening step, as Facebook would only do so if there were credible threats of violence. Last week, the FBI warned of possible armed protests across the US by far-right groups on and in the lead-up to Inauguration Day.

These extra measures come in addition to Facebook’s already announced counter-efforts, including the removal of ‘Stop the Steal’ content and the suspension of US President Donald Trump’s account. Facebook’s also working with law enforcement to provide information on credible threats, while it’s also looking to provide official news updates in US user feeds in regards to the Inauguration and transition.

It remains a tense time in the US, with the election results highlighting the depth of division within the nation. The hope is that after Inauguration Day, society can start to move forward, but as highlighted by these measures, there’s still a long way to go in establishing acceptance, and appeasing all sides of the political spectrum.

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