Facebook’s role in the Jan. 6 attack
A trove of internal documents turned over to the SEC exposes Facebook’s role in fomenting the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Relief flowed through Facebook in the days after the 2020 presidential election. The company had cracked down on misinformation, foreign interference and hate speech — and employees believed they had largely succeeded in limiting problems that, four years earlier, had brought on perhaps the most serious crisis in Facebook’s scandal-plagued history.
“It was like we could take a victory lap,” said a former employee. “There was a lot of the feeling of high-fiving in the office.”
Many who had worked on the election, exhausted from months of unrelenting toil, took leaves of absence or moved on to other jobs. Facebook rolled back many of the dozens of election-season measures that it had used to suppress hateful, deceptive content. A ban the company had imposed on the original Stop the Steal group stopped short of addressing dozens of look-alikes that popped up in what an internal Facebook after-action report called “coordinated” and “meteoric” growth. Meanwhile, the company’s Civic Integrity team was largely disbanded by a management that had grown weary of the team’s criticisms of the company, according to former employees.
But the high-fives, it soon became clear, were premature.