News agency, Reuters, said Facebook has begun eliminating false claims that the deadly fires in Oregon were caused by several left- and right-wing groups, the social media company spokesman said on Saturday after rumors left government officials asking questions.
Since the beginning of this week, state officials have been trying to expose the media misinformation that blames both left and right groups for the fires that killed at least six people in Oregon this week.
Facebook, which previously attached warning labels to such messages, decided to move toward a more rigorous approach after “confirmation by law enforcement agencies that these rumors are forcing local police and firefighters to divert resources to fight the fires and protect the public,” said spokesman Andy Stone in a Twitter statement.
Stone called the decision “consistent with past (Facebook) efforts to remove content that could lead to imminent harm, given the possible risk to human life, while the anger escalates.
The flames destroyed thousands of homes within days, making Oregon the last epicenter of a summer fire outbreak in the western United States.
One of Facebook’s research partners, PolitiFact, wrote on Thursday on its website that dozens of posts blaming the antifate – a largely unstructured left-wing movement – for the fires had been reported by Facebook systems, and that collectively the posts had been shared thousands of times.
On Friday, the FBI stated in a statement that after investigating several reports that extremists were responsible for the fires in Oregon, it considered them false.
Earlier this week, police in Medford, Oregon, denied a false post using the police department’s logo and name, suggesting that five members of the Proud Boys, a group of only right-wing extremists, had been arrested for arson.