Facebook takes down a large network of pages tied to former Trump chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon for misinformation

The move comes just days after Bannon was permanently banned from Twitter after alleging that President Trump should quickly execute Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert. Facebook had also removed two videos from his page for inciting violence.

“We’ve removed several clusters of activity for using inauthentic behavior tactics to artificially boost how many people saw their content,” said Facebook spokesman Andy Stone. “That includes a Group that was originally named ‘Stop the Steal’ which later became ‘Gay Communists for Socialism’ and misled people about its purpose using deceptive tactics.”

Bannon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Social platforms have taken unprecedented steps to police misinformation in the chaotic aftermath of the election, but numerous problematic groups have still gained large followings. Last week “Stop the Steal” groups rapidly gained hundreds of thousands of members and pushed related events protesting election outcomes, before Facebook banned one large group for inciting violence.

The pages taken down include Brian Kolfage, Conservative Values, The Undefeated, We Build the Wall Inc, Citizens of the American Republic, American Joe, and Trump at War.

Kolfage is a longtime Bannon ally. He was indicted with Bannon and two others in August for defrauding donors to a crowdfunded effort to build a private US-Mexico border wall.

In an interview, Avaaz analysts said that they noticed that the pages were interconnected in a way that raised red flags. They tended to post content at exactly the same time, for example. Some of the pages shared an administrator. Some of the pages included links to a Bannon-affiliated website called Populistpress.com, which included stories that have been debunked by fact checkers.

“In 2016, Steve Bannon was buoyed by the Facebook algorithm and helped define the political narrative for millions of Americans.” said Fadi Quran, Campaign Director at Avaaz, in a statement. “Over the last few months, pages and groups connected to him pushed ‘voter fraud’ and other misinformation content to millions. Now, he is seeking to further divide America and spread chaos in this post-Election Day landscape, again using Facebook. Facebook has finally acted after Avaaz’s pressure, but the question is: Why did the company not act earlier?“

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