An internal task force found that Facebook failed to take appropriate action against them and hoped the company could 'do better next time' white neo-nazi terrorists attempt to seize control of the capital when democracy fails to work for them.
Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of a House of Representatives committee that his company had done its part "to secure the integrity of the election".
While the social network did not catch everything, the billionaire chief executive said, Facebook had "made our services inhospitable to those who might do harm" in the lead-up to the attempted coup.
However, an internal company report reached a far different conclusion. The report was shared on Facebook's employee communication platform last month.
The report admits that the people connected to "Stop the Steal," a far-right movement based on the conspiracy theory that former president Donald Trump won the 2020 US presidential election, used the social network to foment an attempted coup.
The document explicitly states that Facebook activity from people connected to Stop the Steal and other Trump loyalist groups, including the Patriot Party, played a role and that the company's emphasis on rooting out fake accounts and "inauthentic behaviour" held it back from taking preemptive action when real people were involved.
The document contradicts Zuckerberg's statement to Congress about Facebook being "inhospitable" to harmful content about the election and refutes chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg's January comment that the insurrection was "largely organised on platforms that don't have our abilities to stop hate, don't have our standards and don't have our transparency".
Facebook disputed the idea that the report went against Zuckerberg's and Sandberg's public statements and noted that both had said there was violative content on the platform that the company did not catch.
Facebook's researchers also outline the bureaucratic, policy, and enforcement struggles of the social giant when trying to respond to a coordinated, fast-paced movement that exploits its platform to spread hate and incite violence.
Despite the company removing the most populous Stop the Steal groups from its platform, the enforcement was "piecemeal" and allowed other groups to flourish.
The company admitted that it only realised it was a cohesive movement "after the Capitol Insurrection and a wave of Storm the Capitol events across the country...." Ultimately, the report says, the issue is that the company is not prepared to deal with what it calls "coordinated authentic harm."
"We learned a lot from these cases," the report says. "We're building tools and protocols and having policy discussions to help us do better next time."
After the report's existence was revealed, access to it was suddenly restricted for many Facebook employees.