Facebook removes hundreds more accounts as right-wing violence spreads

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Facebook has removed almost 900 accounts associated with the far-right Proud Boys and American Guard, including those belonging to Proud Boys supporters who marched into a protest zone in Seattle and confronted anti-racist demonstrators.

KEY POINTS:

  • Facebook has removed almost 900 accounts associated with the far-right Proud Boys and American Guard
  • The take-downs of more than 500 Facebook accounts and more than 300 Instagram accounts followed a smaller round of suspensions two weeks ago
  • Facebook had previously banned the groups for promoting hate, but individual members continued to post images with weapons
  • Both left and right wing groups have been demonstrating, with violence a frequent result

Facebook told journalists at the news agency Reuters the take-downs of more than 500 Facebook accounts and more than 300 Instagram accounts followed a smaller round of suspensions two weeks ago.

“We initially removed a set of accounts for both organisations on the 30th of May when we saw that both organisations started posting content tied to the ongoing protests,” said a Facebook spokeswoman who asked not to be identified.

“We were continuing the work to map out the full network.”

Facebook had previously banned the groups for promoting hate, but individual members continued to post images with weapons and urge others to attend protests that followed the Minneapolis killing of George Floyd in police custody.

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Facebook is under heightened scrutiny as provocateurs use it to coordinate and recruit. It has also acted to make it harder to find groups in the so-called Boogaloo movement.

Boogaloo adherents believe a new civil war is looming and are often heavily armed. Some ally with right-wing militias and have sought to capitalise on the protests by instigating violence they hope will escalate into a broader conflict.

On Tuesday, two adherents were charged in connection with the murder of a security guard on duty at a federal building during a protest in Oakland.

According to an affidavit supporting the criminal complaint, suspects Steven Carrillo and Robert Alvin Justus Jr. belonged to the same unidentified Facebook group and discussed attacking federal authorities on the 28th of May.

“It’s a great opportunity to target the speciality soup bois,” Carrillo posted, in a reference the FBI said was shorthand for three-letter agencies.

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The guard was killed the following night. After a later carjacking, the FBI said, Carrillo wrote “Boog” in his own blood on the vehicle.

Via our content partners at Reuters. Reporting by Joseph Menn. Editing by Greg Mitchell and Christopher Cushing.

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