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(Reuters) – Facebook has started removing false claims that the deadly wildfires in Oregon were started by various left-wing and right-wing groups, a spokesman for the social media company said on Saturday, after the rumors left state officials inundated with queries for information.
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Since early this week, state officials have been attempting to debunk misinformation on social media that has blamed both left-wing and right-wing groups for the fires that have killed at least six people in Oregon this week.
FACEBOOK, GOOGLE, TWITTER URGED BY EU TO DO MORE AGAINST FAKE NEWS
Facebook, which earlier was attaching warning labels to such posts, decided to move to the stricter approach after “confirmation from law enforcement that these rumors are forcing local fire and police agencies to divert resources from fighting the fires and protecting the public,” the spokesman, Andy Stone, said in a statement on Twitter.
Stone called the decision “consistent with (Facebook’s) past efforts to remove content that could lead to imminent harm given the possible risk to human life as the fires rage on.”
Flames have destroyed thousands homes in days, making Oregon the latest epicenter in a larger summer outbreak of fires sweeping the western United States.