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‘Freedom Convoy’ crisis: Congress wants answers about Facebook’s role in trucker blockade

Lawmakers are worried foreign actors are using the platform to manipulate and grow the blockade.

‘Freedom Convoy’ crisis: Congress wants answers about Facebook’s role in trucker blockade
[Source Images: Alan Thornton/Getty]

The so-called “Freedom Convoy” trucker blockade at the U.S.-Canadian border has been ongoing since the end of January, when truckers blocked an Alberta-Montana border crossing in protest against COVID-19 vaccines and restrictions. Since then, it has extended to other U.S.-Canada border crossings, including one in Ontario-Michigan, causing major headaches for cross-border trade and logistics.

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While law enforcement has tried to alleviate the problem by dispersing the trucks and making arrests, lawmakers in Congress want answers from Facebook over the platform’s role in organizing the blockade, according to a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg from Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. Maloney writes:

I am concerned by reports that stolen and fake accounts on Facebook are behind large-scale organizing and fundraising efforts related to a blockade in Canada that has impacted vital U.S.-Canada border crossings and cross-border trade. These reports are particularly alarming given Facebook’s history of amplifying toxic content, extremism, and disinformation, including from Russia and other foreign actors. Although organizations representing American truckers have condemned the blockade, similar convoys are reportedly being promoted by fake Facebook accounts to occur in the United States.

The main worry is that foreign actors are leveraging the platform once again to sow disinformation and to use social engineering methods to get citizens of the U.S. and Canada to grow the movement.

Maloney acknowledges that Facebook has previously said it has removed dozens of spam accounts linked to and promoting the convoy, but she says it’s unclear if inauthentic behavior dedicated to the convoy is continuing to propagate on the platform. Maloney is requesting detailed answers from Facebook, including what country the accounts originate from, whether the accounts are part of a broader network, where the accounts are sending traffic, and what ads were shown alongside these accounts.

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About the author

Michael Grothaus is a novelist, journalist, and former screenwriter. His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books. You can read more about him at MichaelGrothaus.com

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