As conspiracy theories and baseless claims about arson swirl around the deadly Oregon wildfires, Facebook said Saturday that it will work to take down “false” posts and misinformation.
Without providing details about the allegations that have accused Antifa, or anti-fascists, of causing the fires, Facebook said it will delete posts that the flames 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,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement Saturday.
“This is consistent with our past efforts to remove content that could lead to imminent harm given the possible risk to human life as the fires rage on.”
Both the FBI and local law enforcement agencies have publicly disavowed such conspiracy theories, which have spread online and are linked to QAnon.
“Reports that extremists are setting wildfires in Oregon are untrue,” the FBI Portland tweeted Friday, urging people only to spread verifiable information from “trusted” officials.
“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 Douglas County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Facebook Thursday.
“THIS IS NOT TRUE! Unfortunately, people are spreading this rumor and it is causing problems.”
That uncorroborated rumor seems to have sparked by Paul Joseph Romero Jr., a failed Senate candidate in Oregon, who falsely tweeted that the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office had six Antifa “arsonists” in custody.
Romero told CNN that he has no plans to delete the inaccurate tweet.
“My original tweet is not 100% accurate, there is no question about that, but it is mostly accurate,” he said, despite officials’ denials.
The Oregon fires have killed at least nine people so far and burned more than 1 million acres. At least 500,000 people are under evacuation orders.