PALO ALTO (Reuters) – Donald Trump’s right-wing extremists are promoting the idea of a “Patriotic Party” on social media, using references to militia groups and promoting a mix of conspiracy theories, according to a study published on Tuesday. .
The online campaign for a proposed alternative to the Republican Party heavily supported the “Stop Stealing” incidents across the country, including the violent siege of Capitol Hill on January 6, pushing the false claim that the former US President lost due to the November election . widespread fraud.
In the midst of a dispute with several Republican leaders over the Capitol rebellion, Trump says he is talking about forming a new political party, his advisers say.
But Trump’s “Save America PAC” action committee says it has put this idea aside for now.
The effort appears to be decentralized but is growing rapidly, and some “Patriotic Party” groups are gaining thousands of members in a matter of days, according to research by the Tech Transparency Project observer group on Facebook.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the findings. Its critics say it played a big role in spreading misinformation and spreading calls for electoral violence, given its large user base.
The world’s largest social network has taken steps to mitigate these problems by banning the phrase “stop stealing” after the Capitol siege and permanently stopping the algorithm-based advice from civic and political groups.
It also blocked Trump’s access to Facebook and Instagram accounts due to further severe unrest concerns.
TTP said it found 51 groups and 85 pages on Facebook promoting Patriot Party iconography to tens of thousands of followers, in a census of more than half since the 3 November elections on January 20.
TTP said Facebook removed some accounts, including a group created on Jan. 17 that gained 105,000 members in the eight days of its existence, but that the app was “piecemeal” and dozens of others remained active on the platform.
Despite Facebook’s decision to ban “militarized social movements” in August, some of the forum administrators openly supported far-right militias such as Three Percent and the Oath Guard.
A post posted on Jan. 6 in a private “Patriotic Party” Facebook group with more than 2,000 members redirected members to an external site, urging them to “join your local militia”, screenshot taken by TTP.
Support for the Patriotic Party movement also flourished on other social media platforms and online news sites, reaching a peak around Opening Day on January 20, according to data from the media intelligence firm Zignal Labs.
Reporting by Katie Paul; Additional report by Elizabeth Culliford in New York; Editing by Kenneth Li and John Stonestreet