Why Were Bernie Sanders Groups Removed From Facebook?
Search Heavy

Why Were Bernie Sanders Groups Removed From Facebook?

bernie sanders facebook pages

Bernie Sanders Facebook pages are disappearing en masse from Facebook. (Getty)

Numerous popular Bernie Sanders Facebook groups and pages were removed from the social media giant on Monday, causing hundreds of thousands of members to wonder exactly what was happening. The removals all began happening around the same time, with people wondering if the removals might originate from a PAC that supports a rival campaign or if it was just the work of unrelated trolls. Later news indicated it might at least partially be the result of a Facebook database error. What happened?

Here’s what you need to know.


Bernie Sanders Groups With More Than 50,000 Members Were Removed

bernie sanders

Why were Bernie Sanders Facebook pages removed? (Getty)

A number of Bernie Sanders Facebook groups, including some with more than 50,000 members, were removed from Facebook all around the same time on Monday. Facebook user Dorian Gray told Heavy.com that the synchronized attack appeared to take place while Sanders was talking at the Town Hall. It appears that at least some of the reports originated from Clinton supporters in a rival Facebook group, but a Facebook bug may have also been involved.

For groups that had been around for a while and were so popular, their removal was a pretty big deal and could have pointed to a massive, coordinated effort. The groups have already been reinstated. The removed groups included:

  • Bernie Sanders Activists
  • Bernie Believers
  • Bernie Sanders Is My Hero
  • Bernie or Bust
  • Bernie Sanders for President
  • Bernie Sanders – Ideas Welcome
  • Bernie Sanders Revolutionaries
  • Bay Area for Bernie

New versions of some of these groups were created, to help combat the removal, such as a new Bernie Believers that is at this link. And other new groups were created to help the supporters still find a place to gather, like Bernie Sanders Reconvenes.

Since the article was first published, all the groups have been brought back online as of late Monday night. Bernie Sanders is My HERO was one of the first to report being reinstated.


Fake Links & Pornographic Photos Were Posted by ‘Troll’ Members First in Some of the Groups

error message

The error message that replaced many Bernie Sanders groups on Facebook. (Facebook)

Some members of the Facebook groups reported that trolls had infiltrated the groups and were posting pornographic photos, some possibly even with pedophilia. Facebook user Dorian Gray posted to a different Facebook group, concerned that he had been banned for telling the administrators about the posts. But it turns out, it was the groups themselves that were banned. He said that he only saw two groups that had the pornographic posts before they were taken down: Bernie Sanders Is My Hero and Bernie or Bust 2016. Admins of the group removed the troll posters and all the pornographic-related posts. It’s unclear if the groups were later taken down because of those posts, since not all the Bernie groups had reported having such posts.

Erica Libenow, another member of a Bernie group, said, “We had what looked like a kiddie porn posted in one of our groups today. I reported that one. Seriously made me want to vomit.”


Members Wondered If the Removals Were Connected to Rival Political Groups, but a Facebook Bug May Have Been Involved

https://twitter.com/Charlenefoxx72/status/724816802707083267

Some members of the Sanders Facebook groups, such as Liz Laguaite on Twitter, posted their concerns and wondered if this had any connection to rival political groups, such as a PAC supporting Hillary Clinton that was going to begin targeting posts written by Bernie Sanders supporters and other political groups. But an official from the PAC said they were not involved and did not condone such actions.

Screenshots provided by some members of the Bernie Sanders groups indicated the groups’ removal may have been at least partially the result of a group of trolls who supported rival political parties, working together to spread false reports about the groups. You can read more about this in the last section of this article.

Later reports indicated that a bug or glitch on Facebook may have also played a role. On Reddit, user imjoshs posted this thread and shared a photo of a message from Aidan King, the digital and social media manager for Bernie Sanders’ campaign. He said that he talked with Aidan King on the ConnectWithBernie slackchat and was told that there was a Facebook bug that closed many Facebook groups, not just Bernie Sanders groups. He added that when the bug took groups down, Facebook sent notifications to people who had filed reports against the groups, saying their report was “successful.” He shared this screenshot showing a message from Aidan King:

However, Facebook has not as of yet released a statement about this, nor has Aidan King posted about this on his Reddit account or his Twitter account, as of 2 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday.

Supporters were concerned about potential Clinton PAC involvement because, according to the Daily Beast, a pro-Clinton Super PAC is spending $1 million to counter people on sites like Instagram, Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter. The group is Correct the Record’s “Barrier Breakers.” According to the PAC’s press release, the digital task force will share positive content and “push back” against online progressive communities to counter “false narratives” and negative attacks. The Super PAC openly coordinates with Clinton’s campaign, Daily Beast reported.

However, there’s no proof of any connection between that PAC and this attack, and definitely no proof of any connection between the PACs and the pornography posts, which were likely from unrelated trolls and spammers. In fact, Elizabeth Shappell, Communications Director from Correct the Record, contacted Heavy.com and shared that the group had no affiliation with those attacks and did not condone them:

Correct the Record strongly condemns any form of online harassment, vile language, explicit content, or bullying. Barrier Breakers 2016 had nothing to do with this incident, and anyone reporting otherwise is not reporting the truth. Barrier Breakers 2016 is currently engaging in only positive content supporting Hillary Clinton’s campaign to be our next president.”


Some Supporters of Rival Politicians Made False Reports, but the Bernie Groups Are Now Back

The Bernie Sanders groups may have been affected by mass reporting from online users who claimed the groups were breaking Facebook rules and terms of service. The same thing happened to Election Justice USA last week, and the site was later reinstated. Admins told people on Reddit that they didn’t know why their Bernie Sanders pages were removed. Whether it was the result of a Facebook bug, mass reports from supporters of political rivals, or something completely different isn’t yet known for certain.

Facebook has automated systems that remove people and pages based on flags and reports sent from other Facebook users. Once an actual person reviews that removal and determines it was fraudulent, they can reinstate the page. An atheist group’s Facebook page experienced exactly this after Facebook was inundated with flags from people who cited the page as being guilty of “bullying.” These were later determined to be false citations from people who didn’t like the page, and the page was reinstated.

Screenshots have surfaced pointing to a possible coordinated attempt at “mass reporting” the Bernie Sanders pages for false violations. Kristen Fumarola shared with Bernie Sanders supporters a few screenshots of conversations between possible trolls on Facebook:

Bernie Sanders Reported

Possible Bernie Sanders Facebook page report (Bernie Sanders: The Media)

Some of the efforts stemmed from some individuals in a Facebook group called Bros4Hillary. In the group, one person made a public post that included a screenshot of the above photo with a comment that there was a “mole” in the group. The group then went private, in part because the members’ posts weren’t condoned, as the group’s political director says in a statement below.

Another screenshot that Kristen Fumarola shared on a Bernie Sanders Facebook group showed reactions to the post:

bernie conversation

(Facebook)

A public post to the group page late Monday night showed the following:

(Facebook/bros4hillary)

(Facebook/bros4hillary)

This appears to be against “Bros4Hillary’s” main mission, which includes “Be respectful to others.” Bros4Hillary’s Political Director, Alex Mohajer, contacted Heavy to let us know that the group does not condone those actions.

“Bros4Hillary was created as a way to provide a positive and supportive community for supporters of Hillary Clinton to gather, and as a direct response to the hateful and divisive rhetoric used by other campaigns during this election cycle,” he said. “We have not and do not approve of or condone harmful or offensive rhetoric or harassing behavior targeting supporters of any other candidate in the race…”

He then addressed specifically what happened on Monday.

“Last night, a former member … decided to engage in harassing behavior toward Facebook groups of Bernie Sanders and posted about it in the B4H Facebook group,” he said. “…This was not promoted or supported by the leadership of B4H… We removed the offending posts and member as soon as possible.”

Mohajer added:

While our leadership team of administrators tries to catch every questionable post and comment, with over 7,000 members and on a 24-hour posting cycle, some fall through the cracks. We … apologize to the groups that were affected. This member acted on his own authority, is not apart of our leadership team, and does not represent our ideals or our opinions.

Mohajer said that his group will go live again soon and they’re excited about the future of the political campaign and the money they’re raising, and they regret the actions of a few that spoiled the work of many.

All of the Bernie groups have since been reinstated. But their deletion pointed to how easily a coordinated online attack can bring a page down. Even if it ultimately ends up being partially caused by a glitch, Election Justice USA’s group was removed last week, and it appears there was not any bug involved in that incident. Facebook may need to review their system and the automatic removal of groups based solely on mass flags and reports.

144 Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

144 Comments

Shug MacLumphur

While the glitch was real, there have also been hostile takeovers, and in my experience they are not Clinton supporters – most sane Bernie followers are, like him, in favour of using the DNC as a vehicle for progress for now. I found most of the bad behaviour to be from Jill Stein supporters. Some of the sycophants can be described as rabid in their behaviour, the more ridiculous and naive their beliefs the more aggressive they are when faced with facts and reality. They believe Jill has a divine right to inherit Bernie’s platform, or that Bernie has lost faith with his own campaign if you can believe that piece of tortuous thinking. I recall Bernie saying a long time back that if he lost the primary, Clinton was the next best choice and he’s right. Jill may share more social democrat values, but she won’t be holding office, and all she can possibly do is help Trump due to the benighted electoral college. It is time for the Greens to rethink strategy and build a real party like the SNP.

Reply
Shug MacLumphur

This is not just a glitch or false flag complaints. Groups are also subject to hostile takeovers. I was booted from a couple of my Bernie groups for espousing his strategy and blocked, and when I look at them from another account they just redirect to Jill Stein’s campaign page.

Reply
rapheal williams

OMG! I never knew CANNABIS OIL could cure cancer, i thought it was only meant to eliminate leukaemia and Illinois paralyses, until 2 months ago, When i got a bottle of the oil, I bought them pretty expensive though, but had no option and didn’t want to loose my life just because of money..It turned out to be what i was looking for over 17 months, a week after buying the CANNABIS OIL it was like a reborn for me. Even my doctors were so amazed by its potency. I seriously advise that you also get yours, I am a living testimony of the wonder works of the cannabis oil and avoid going through life risking surgerys. its 100% potent i swear.. xxx
I got mine through “Cannabisoiltreatment@hotmail.com” . Godbless you all and i wish you a quck recovery

Reply
rapheal williams

OMG! I never knew CANNABIS OIL could cure cancer, i thought it was only meant to eliminate leukaemia and Illinois paralyses, until 2 months ago, When i got a bottle of the oil, I bought them pretty expensive though, but had no option and didn’t want to loose my life just because of money..It turned out to be what i was looking for over 17 months, a week after buying the CANNABIS OIL it was like a reborn for me. Even my doctors were so amazed by its potency. I seriously advise that you also get yours, I am a living testimony of the wonder works of the cannabis oil and avoid going through life risking surgerys. its 100% potent i swear..
I got mine through “Cannabisoiltreatment@hotmail.com” . Godbless you all and i wish you a quck recovery xx

Reply
Diamond. Jim

How bout we remove Bernie Sanders and his supporters permanently. Apparently Bernie Sanders doesn’t know when to remove himself.

Reply
Anonymous

It’s freedom of the press, everyone has the right to post say express how one feels with respect, to shut down the Bernies because your corrupt afraid of the truth is shameful, run a fair clean campaign allow media coverage the same respect to each candidate. This is America when did we become a third world country, we have alway stood up for what is right, fought for justice, to side by side in this great nation. To control shut down hack lie comment fraud steal election is not America. Bernies have never committed these crimes, the Hillarys have!!!! They are the first to call Wolf but the first to brake all the rules!!!!!! Stop the games fight a fare fight let the best person win fairly the right way keep your lies to your selves

Reply
Anonymous

I have been blocked 3 times in a week for posting truth. I guess she didn’t like it!!

Reply
Patrick J. Flanagan (@Pabbyman2000)

I posted an article about the hacker from Finland Named Guccifer who said he found it easy to steal Hillary’s emails. Minutes later I received a message from Facebook saying that I could no longer post websites on my account and that I should go to Facebook.com. I did and then got a notification saying that the computer I was using had malware and now I need to download anti-virus software to fix it. I was using the display computer at The Apple I Store so I decided to try the comp at the library. Same thing. Got the same message about malware from every comp or Mac I’ve tried to access my Facebook account from. I was able to log in using my phone. So I started a new account and friended my self. Then I tried to bring all my old friends onto my new account. When I did that I got a security message saying please tell us the name of the person in this picture and there was a multiple choice of names. Problem was there wasn’t any picture. It gave me the option to skip. Which I did. Got the same security question again and again there was no picture. So I skipped again. Then they said “that’s it you used up all your chances”. So now I’m on Twitter. Does anyone know how to counter act this?

Reply
Anonymous

High Quality Medical cannabis oil and top shelf marijuana for patients with illness
like cancer,pain,insomnia,anxiety,liver problem,epilepsy and more. on Sale at negotiable prices.
Cancer cannabis oil on sale at excellent rate. We have come so that all
can afford good medical marijuana and affordable prices.
text::(513) 401-5578
email:burgd7123@gmail.com

Reply
Brian Pomerleau

Ive reported people before mostly racist comments using the nword , just the other day some jerk online told me to “kill myself” it was an article regarding the whole cali bathroom incident i did call out WBBC for their un-christian BS , long story short it took several (like 6 reports they “didnt find anything wrong” 5 times on the 6th they finally found the comment was wrong and removed not only the comment but the jerk who posted it seeing how it delves into cyberbullying , FB’s automated report/response system sucks !!!!

Reply
kesweat

Hillary is a career politician, crook and liar. If she wins the nomination i am voting a republican ticket. Why?
Simple, if the DNC allows such dishonesty in the light of day imagine the
destruction they can accomplish behind closed doors.

Reply
Discuss on Facebook