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Fire damage is seen in Mill City, Ore., on Sept. 12, 2020. (AP/Flaccus) Fire damage is seen in Mill City, Ore., on Sept. 12, 2020. (AP/Flaccus)

Fire damage is seen in Mill City, Ore., on Sept. 12, 2020. (AP/Flaccus)

Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy September 15, 2020

False antifa fire claims from suspended Twitter account spread on Facebook

If Your Time is short

  • Antifa stands for “anti-fascist” and refers to a broad coalition of activists — including communists, anarchists and socialists — that has been around for decades.

  • There is no evidence that antifa activists ignited the wildfires that have burned recently in Oregon and throughout the West Coast.

  • The Twitter account allegedly belonging to an antifa group in Scarsdale, N.Y., has been suspended from Twitter, a company spokesperson confirmed.

Social media users are citing a Twitter account since suspended from the platform to falsely claim that anti-fascist activists have been setting wildfires in Oregon.

"We and other chapters of Antifa around Oregon have collaborated to ignite fires around the state to draw attention to the #climateemergency #antifafires #antifariots," read the Sept. 10 tweet from an account that purportedly represents an antifa group in Scarsdale, N.Y.

Screenshots of the tweet snapped before the account was suspended by Twitter have circulated elsewhere. "Antifa is a domestic terrorist organization," said one Facebook post

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

There are three clear problems with the Facebook post and the tweet at the center of it.

First, antifa has not been designated as a terrorist organization. It is not a singular group. The term stands for "anti-fascist" and is used to describe a broad coalition of activists — including communists, anarchists and socialists — that has been around for decades.

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Second, there’s no evidence that antifa activists are responsible for the wildfires that have raged in Oregon and across the West Coast. As we’ve reported, police and fire officials have dispelled rumors about antifa. Many of the wildfires appear to have been sparked accidentally.

RELATED: Antifa activists did not start the West Coast wildfires

"FBI Portland and local law enforcement agencies have been receiving reports that extremists are responsible for setting wildfires in Oregon. With our state and local partners, the FBI has investigated several such reports and found them to be untrue," the FBI said in a statement.

A Facebook representative said on Twitter that the platform was "removing false claims that the wildfires in Oregon were started by certain groups."

Finally, the Scarsdale Antifa Twitter account behind the original post is suspect. New York magazine identified it in 2017 as one of many likely fake antifa accounts. A reporter noted on Sept. 12, two days after the tweet in question went up, that the account had been suspended.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed Sept. 14 that the account was suspended for violating Twitter’s policy on "platform manipulation and spam." The policy says violations occur when users operate fake accounts, use multiple accounts to artificially amplify or disrupt conversations, artificially inflate their followers or engagement, or misuse Twitter’s features.

We rate this Facebook post False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, Sept. 14, 2020

Scarsdale Antifa on Twitter, accessed via the Internet Archive and archive.today, Sept. 10, 2020 

Twitter, "Platform manipulation and spam policy," accessed Sept. 14, 2020

Jason Wilson on Twitter, Sept. 12, 2020

Ali Breland on Twitter, Sept. 12, 2020

Andy Stone on Twitter, Sept. 12, 2020

FBI Portland on Twitter, Sept. 11, 2020

New York Magazine, "How to Spot a Fake Antifa Account," Aug. 21, 2017

PolitiFact, "Oregon law enforcement does not have six ‘antifa arsonists’ in custody," Sept. 11, 2020

PolitiFact, "Antifa activists did not start the West Coast wildfires," Sept. 10, 2020

PolitiFact, "Despite Trump talk, antifa has not been designated as a terrorist organization," July 21, 2020

Statement from Twitter, Sept. 14, 2020

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False antifa fire claims from suspended Twitter account spread on Facebook

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