Yesterday, Rolling Stone reported that Facebook had shut down Stop the Steal, a massive pro-Trump Facebook group propagating misinformation about the election and platforming violent rhetoric. In the hours since Stop the Steal was taken down, a slew of replacement Facebook groups have popped up with similar or slightly tweaked names hoping to avoid detection.
One band of leftists, however, came up with a clever way to combat such misinformation: creating a fake Stop the Steal replacement group, attracting tens of thousands of Trump-supporting members; then renaming it Gay Communists for Socialism, adding a photo of Obama and Biden cavorting through the White House with rainbow flags to drive the point home. Trolls then barraged the group with anti-Trump memes.
Members of the group formerly known as Stop the Steal were confused, to say the least. Some members, clearly panicked at the prospect of being publicly associated with gay people (or socialists) (or Communists), posted that they had called Facebook customer service to request they be removed from the group. “What in the hell?? I would never invite anyone to anything such named,” one poster wrote. “How the hell did I start seeing posts from this sick group?” another mused. “I am soooooo confused right now,” said another, against a prototypically boomer Facebook meme background.
Fortunately, leftists were on hand to helpfully explain to them what was going on: “You’re gay now,” said one.
one of the largest “stop the steal” facebook groups has apparently rebranded pic.twitter.com/CyKgADDuhs
— chris (@MrTooDamnChris) November 6, 2020
The “rebranding” of the Stop the Steal group was first spotted by @MrTooDamnChris on Twitter, who had joined it in its original incarnation “for a laugh.” When the Stop the Steal group was taken down, he joined a slew of new ones that popped up in its place. “The one that I guess was a honeypot all along ended up being, I think, the biggest of the new ones,” he tells Rolling Stone.
At first, an admin for the group, who goes by the name of Jasper Q. Tarber, tried to calm down the 60,000-plus-member group by claiming that he had renamed the group in order to avoid Facebook censorship. This seemed to assuage many members’ fears, convincing them the group was a pro-Trump trolling masterwork. A quick glance at Tarber’s Facebook page, however, reveals that he has previously liked large left-leaning groups as well as pro-drug decriminalization pages (and a number of breweries, if that can be considered a gauge of political affiliation). Another admin, who goes by Andrew Joseph on Facebook, describes himself on Facebook as a “recently divorced dad. DJ. Poet. Sexhibitionist. Juggalo.”
Rolling Stone reached out to the four admins of the group, none of whom responded immediately. But the origins of the Gay Communists for Socialism group were confirmed by screengrabs sent to Rolling Stone by Luna Lanfear, an admin for another left-wing Facebook group. According to Lanfear, Tarber had reached out to her group the day before to debrief them on the plan to troll conservatives with a fake Stop the Steal group.
“Okay so this is gonna sound strange but I need help. I started a Stop the Steal group with the intention of switching it to being liberal/leftist group,” he says in the Facebook message. “The group now has almost 50k members. I need to start filling it with liberals/leftists to fuck with all the members.” He then asks members of other anti-Trump groups to join Stop the Steal and barrage it with liberal memes.
Apparently, the plan worked extremely well: as of press time, Gay Communists for Socialism has more than 56,000 members, many of whom appear to be conservatives who believe themselves to be cleverly avoiding Facebook censorship by masquerading as gay communists for socialism.