Facebook bans more than 300 groups promoting growing ‘violent network’

1 Jul 2020

Image: © ChenPG/Stock.adobe.com

Facebook has announced that any content promoting the ‘boogaloo’ network will be banned from its platforms.

As Facebook comes under increasing pressure to better tackle racism and hate on its platforms, it has announced the removal of 220 Facebook accounts and 95 Instagram accounts for promoting a violent US-based anti-government network.

This network uses the term ‘boogaloo’, but is distinct from the broader and loosely-affiliated boogaloo movement, Facebook said, because it actively seeks to commit violence. Some associated with this latest movement often promote right-wing extremism and call for an overthrow of the US government, while others advocate for white supremacy.

Facebook said that it has been removing boogaloo content when there is a clear connection to violence or a credible threat, but it will now remove all content promoting or representing the ‘violent network’. In addition to more than 300 accounts being removed, it has removed more than 400 additional groups and more than 100 pages for hosting similar content.

“This network appears to be based across various locations in the US, and the people within it engage with one another on our platform,” the company said.

“It is actively promoting violence against civilians, law enforcement and government officials and institutions. Members of this network seek to recruit others within the broader boogaloo movement, sharing the same content online and adopting the same offline appearance as others in the movement to do so.”

Where they’ll go next

While the boogaloo term dates back to at least 2012, it grew in popularity starting in 2019 and has been linked with several arrests in the US over the past two months. In May, three men in Las Vegas suspected of being members of the extremist boogaloo movement were charged with allegedly conspiring to commit a terrorist act against anti-racism protests.

“We know that our efforts will never completely eliminate the risk from this network, or other dangerous organisations, but we will continue to remove content and accounts that break our rules so we can keep people safe,” Facebook said.

Speaking with NBC, computer science professor Megan Squire of Elon University, North Carolina, said these now-banned Facebook groups will likely splinter into other platforms such as Telegram and Parler.

“First, they’ll attempt to go to backup pages and accounts made beforehand, if they have them,” she said.

“They’ll also go to known alternate platforms, and in some cases may attempt to reconstruct the network on entirely new platforms.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic