Was There a Clinton-Orchestrated Conspiracy to Shut Down Sanders Facebook Groups? Nope.
Last night, Bernie Sanders supporters all over the Internet — Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc. — went on a conspiracy theory binge because several pro-Sanders Facebook pages had been shut down. And of course the target of these conspiracy theories was, you guessed it, Hillary Clinton. Is there nothing this diabolical “neoliberal” won’t do to sabotage the Bern?
I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know, thanks to the Daily Beast’s Ben Collins, who actually bothered to contact Facebook and find out what was going on, that there was no Clinton-orchestrated conspiracy behind this.
It was… wait for it… a software bug that affected thousands of Facebook groups, not just pro-Sanders groups. All the groups affected by it were quickly restored. But a lot of Sanders supporters and some media organizations who reported the fake conspiracy as fact now have egg on their faces.
Theories on Sanders’s primary subreddit and Facebook pages quickly popped up, accusing Hillary Clinton supporters of a coordinated effort to report the Sanders pages for threats of violence and child pornography until the pages went down.
Some news organizations appeared to back some of the theories. Paste Magazine headlined one story, “Clinton’s Internet Supporters, Allegedly Using Pornography, Shut Down Bernie Sanders’ Largest Facebook Groups in Coordinated Attack,” while USUnCut ran a story headlined, “Hillary Clinton Trolls Shut Down Pro-Bernie Sanders Facebook Groups.” Salon joined in, too, pointing to a “mystery over booted Bernie Sanders Facebook groups.”
“At least some of the attacks originated from a rival Facebook group of Clinton supporters, reports say,” the Salon story reads.
But Facebook—and now even the affected pro-Sanders groups themselves—say that the real problem was merely a database error that affected more pages than just Sanders-leaning community pages.
“A number of groups were inaccessible for a brief period after one of our automated policies was applied incorrectly,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote. “We corrected the problem within hours and are working to improve our tools.”