Facebook said Tuesday that it was removing a network of accounts, groups and pages connected to an anti-government movement in the United States that encourages violence.
People and groups associated with the decentralized movement, called boogaloo, will be banned from Facebook and Instagram, which it also owns, the company said. Facebook said it would remove 220 Facebook accounts, 95 Instagram accounts, 28 pages and 106 groups as a result of the decision. It is also designating boogaloo as a dangerous social media organization, which means it shares the same ranking as terrorist activity, organized hatred, and large-scale criminal organizations on Facebook.
The boogaloo network promoted “violence against civilians, law enforcement, and government officials and institutions,” the company wrote in a blog post. “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.”
The decision is the latest in a series of recent moves by tech companies to tighten the discourse allowed in their popular services and to more aggressively control extreme moves. The problem has become more pronounced in recent weeks after the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis who was killed in police custody last month. The murder sparked huge protests across the country demanding changes in police departments and the treatment of blacks in general.
On Monday Reddit said it was banning approximately 2,000 communities across the political spectrum that attacked people or regularly participated in hate speech, including “r / The_Donald,” a community dedicated to President Trump. YouTube said it banned six channels for violating its policies, including those of two prominent white supremacists, David Duke and Richard Spencer.
Facebook’s changes have largely focused on the boogaloo movement and white supremacist hate groups so far. In May, Facebook said it updated its policies to ban the use of “boogaloo” and related terms when used in posts containing depictions of armed violence. The company also identified more than 800 boogaloo-linked posts that challenged its violence and incitement policy and did not recommend them to other users. And this month, the company said it had removed two account networks connected to white supremacist groups that encouraged violence in the real world.
Followers of the boogaloo movement seek to exploit public unrest to incite a racial war that will provoke a new government. His followers are often strong advocates of the Second Amendment, and some use Nazi iconography and its extremist symbols, according to organizations that track hate groups.
“Boogaloo” is a pop culture reference derived from a 1984 movie called “Breakin ‘2: Electric Boogaloo” that became a cult classic. Online, it has connected with what some consider sarcastic and humorous memes, as well as occasional physical violence and militaristic displays of force.
In June, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested three men in Nevada who called themselves members of the boogaloo movement, accusing them of trying to incite violence in a protest against police in Las Vegas. In May, Denver police officers confiscated three assault rifles, magazines, several bulletproof vests, and other military equipment from the car trunk of a self-identified boogaloo follower on the way to a Black Lives Matter protest, and had previously broadcast live your support. for armed clashes with the police.
In addition to the boogaloo network, Facebook said it would also remove 400 additional groups and more than a hundred pages that also violate its Dangerous People and Organizations policy.
The company said it would continue to identify and eliminate attempts by members of the movement to return to the social network, the company said.
Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Investigation Laboratory, applauded the Facebook crackdown on Tuesday.
“The Dangerous People Policy on Facebook reflects the language of law enforcement and meets a high threshold for online harm that leads to direct action in the real world,” said Brookie. “Limiting the online conversation that leads to that action is a good thing and a public safety issue.”
Alex Stamos, director of the Stanford Internet Observatory and former chief security officer at Facebook, said the decentralized nature of the boogaloo movement and its tendency to use irony and euphemism in posts could make it difficult to apply the policy.
“Deciding who a boogaloo member really is now that they are motivated to obfuscate their loyalties will be a huge and ongoing challenge,” Stamos said.