Facebook groups displayed at least 650,000 posts attacking the legitimacy of President Biden’s victory between Election Day and the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol, with many calling for executions or other political violence, an investigation by ProPublica and The Washington Post found. The barrage — averaging at least 10,000 posts a day, a scale not reported previously — turned the groups into incubators for the baseless claims supporters of President Trump voiced as they demanded he get a second term. Many posts portrayed Biden’s election as the result of widespread fraud that required extraordinary action — including the use of force — to prevent the nation from falling into the hands of traitors. “LOOKS LIKE CIVIL WAR is BECOMING INEVITABLE !!!” read one post before the Capitol assault. “WE CANNOT ALLOW FRAUDULENT ELECTIONS TO STAND ! SILENT NO MORE MAJORITY MUST RISE UP NOW AND DEMAND BATTLEGROUND STATES NOT TO CERTIFY FRAUDULENT ELECTIONS NOW !”
Another post, 10 days after the 2020 election, bore an avatar of a smiling woman with her arms raised in triumph and read, “WE ARE AMERICANS!!! WE FOUGHT AND DIED TO START OUR COUNTRY! WE ARE GOING TO FIGHT... FIGHT LIKE HELL. WE WILL SAVE HER❤ THEN WERE GOING TO SHOOT THE TRAITORS!!!!!!!!!!!” One post showed a Civil War-era picture of a gallows with more than two dozen nooses and hooded figures waiting to be hanged. Other posts called for arrests and executions of specific public figures — both Democrats and Republicans. “BILL BARR WE WILL BE COMING FOR YOU,” wrote a group member after Barr announced that the Justice Department had found little evidence to support Trump’s claims of widespread vote-rigging. “WE WILL HAVE CIVIL WAR IN THE STREETS BEFORE BIDEN WILL BE PRES.” Facebook executives have played down the company’s role in the Jan. 6 attack and have resisted calls, including from its own Oversight Board, for a comprehensive internal investigation.