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NelsonG

Facebook bans ‘violent network’ of far-right boogaloo accounts

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Facebook took action to remove a network of accounts Tuesday related to the “boogaloo” movement, a firearm-obsessed anti-government ideology that focuses on preparing for and potentially inciting a U.S. civil war.

“As part of today’s action, we are designating a violent US-based anti-government network under our Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy and disrupting it on our services,” Facebook wrote in the announcement. “As a result, this violent network is banned from having a presence on our platform and we will remove content praising, supporting or representing it.”

In its announcement, the company made a distinction between “the broader and loosely-affiliated boogaloo movement” and the violent group of accounts it identified and we’ve asked Facebook to clarify how or if it will distinguish between the two moving forward.

On Tuesday, Facebook removed 220 Facebook accounts, 28 pages, 106 groups (some public, some private) and 95 Instagram accounts related to the network it identified within the boogaloo movement.

A Facebook spokesperson clarified that today’s actions don’t mean all boogaloo content will be subject to removal. The company will continue concentrate on boogaloo activity that focuses on potential real-world violence, like the new cluster of content taken down. The new designation of some boogaloo networks as “dangerous organizations” does mean that Facebook will scan its platform for symbols connected to the accounts that meet that designation.

The company notes that it has been monitoring boogaloo content since 2019, but previously only removed the content when it posed a “credible” threat of offline violence, citing that the presence of that threat in its decision to more aggressively identify and remove boogaloo content.

“… Officials have identified violent adherents to the movement as those responsible for several attacks over the past few months,” the company wrote in its blog post. “These acts of real-world violence and our investigations into them are what led us to identify and designate this distinct network.”

Earlier this month, an Air Force sergeant found with symbols connected to the boogaloo movement was charged with murder for killing a federal security officer during protests in Oakland.

In an April report, the watchdog group Tech Transparency Project detailed how extremists committed to the boogaloo movement “[exchange] detailed information and tactics on how to organize and execute a revolt against American authorities” in Facebook groups, some private. Boogaloo groups appear to have flourished on the platform in the early days of the pandemic, with politicized state lockdowns, viral misinformation and general uncertainty fueling fresh interest in far-right extremism.

As the Tech Transparency Project report explains, the boogaloo movement initially used the cover of humor, memes and satire to disguise an underlying layer of real-world violent intent. Boogaloo groups have a mix of members with varying levels of commitment to real-world violence and race-based hate, but organizations studying extremism have identified overlap between boogaloo supporters and white supremacist groups.

Facebook’s action against the boogaloo movement come the same day that Democratic senators wrote a letter to the company demanding accountability for its role in amplifying white supremacy and other forms of far-right extremism. In the letter, addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, lawmakers cited activity by members of boogaloo groups as part of Facebook’s “failure to address the hate spreading on its platform.”

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