Facebook says it’s removing false claims about who started Oregon wildfires


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Law enforcement agencies have been flooded with calls about online rumors that members of Antifa, an anti-fascist, often far-left-wing movement, were arrested for setting fires across the state.

“Reports that extremists are setting wildfires in Oregon are untrue,” the FBI Portland said in a tweet Friday.

Since the FBI and other law enforcement agencies confirmed the claims are false, Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said the platform will work to remove the rumors.

“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,” Stone said about the decision.

Big Tech has been facing tremendous pressure in recent years to tackle the spread of misinformation on their platforms.

The claims that Antifa set the fires started when the anonymous account behind QAnon posted a link to a tweet by Paul Joseph Romero Jr., a former Republican US Senate candidate from Oregon, claiming the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office had six Antifa “arsonists” in custody.

It took hours for the rumors to be amplified by QAnon’s followers.

Speaking to CNN Saturday, Romero claimed, “My original tweet is not 100% accurate, there is no question about that, but it is mostly accurate.”

He said he is not a QAnon follower but has seen some of Q’s posts and said, “I don’t think you can discount [Q] more than you can discount anybody.”

Romero said he does not plan to remove the tweet.

Hundreds of homes in Ashland, Oregon and nearby towns have been lost due to wildfire.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is urging the public to follow official sources of information and local reputable news outlets.

In a Facebook post, the office pleaded: “Do your part, STOP. SPREADING. RUMORS!”

At least eight people have perished in the blazes that have scorched more than 875,000 acres across the state.

CNN’s Konstantin Toropin also contributed to this report.

Read more at CNN.com