Published 1:57 PM EDT Sep 13, 2020
Facebook plans to remove posts making false claims about who started the Oregon wildfires.
Some posts on the site claim an extremist group deliberately sparked the fires that are spreading throughout the West. Dozens of fires have burned more than 6,200 square miles across western states, including Oregon.
The Portland, Oregon, division of the FBI tweeted Friday that it has received several calls over claims that “extremists are setting wildfires,” but it said those reports are untrue. “Help us stop the spread of misinformation by only sharing information from trusted, official sources,” the agency said.
The sheriff’s office in Douglas County, Oregon, also responded to the rumors.
“Rumors spread just like wildfire and now our 9-1-1 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires,” the sheriff’s office posted on Facebook.
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After the FBI and other law enforcement agencies said the rumors are false, Facebook spokesman Andy Stone tweeted that Facebook will work to take down the posts in question.
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“We are removing false claims that the wildfires in Oregon were started by certain groups. This is based on confirmation from law enforcement that these rumors are forcing local fire and police agencies to divert resources from fighting the fires and protecting the public,” Stone tweeted Saturday.
The move aligns with the company’s efforts “to remove content that could lead to imminent harm,” Stone said. He did not specify how many posts or accounts would be affected.
Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown