Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg was lambasted on social media on Monday after she claimed that last week’s Capitol insurrection was not “largely organized” on Facebook, but on other platforms “that don’t have our abilities to stop hate, don’t have our standards, and don’t have our transparency. In a Livestream interview with Reuters posted Monday, the Facebook chief operating officer talked about President Donald Trump’s involvement with Facebook, his subsequent ban from the platform, and the proliferation of his rhetoric on the forum. When asked whether Facebook could have done more to prevent the Capitol riot, Sandberg said:
We again took down QAnon, Proud Boys, Stop the Steal, anything that was talking about possible violence last week. Our enforcement is never perfect, so I’m sure there were still things on Facebook. I think these events were largely organized on platforms that don’t have our abilities to stop hate, don’t have our standards and don’t have our transparency.
Sandberg acknowledged Facebook’s announcement on Monday that it would be removing content that included the phrase “stop the steal” from Facebook and Instagram, which it owns, to combat misinformation. We began preparing for Inauguration Day last year. But our planning took on new urgency after last week’s violence in Washington, D.C., and we are treating the next two weeks as a major civic event,” it wrote in a company blog post. In her interview with Reuters, Sandberg added that “it may take some time to scale up our enforcement of this new step.” As of Monday night, Facebook was still suggesting Inauguration Day events hosted by the same groups behind the insurrection at the Capitol last week.
Additionally, the platform has been implored to “undertake reasonable measures” to retain any content connected to the insurrection in preparation for future legal action. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a letter dated Friday, saying: “The texts, videos and pictures posted to your platforms ― and associated meta-data, cloud backups and subscriber information ― are critical evidence in helping to bring these rioters to justice. The United States Capitol is now a crime scene.”