Facebook has banned a violent subset of the anti-government “boogaloo” movement after authorities linked its members to real-world attacks.
The social-media giant called the extremist network as a dangerous organization — the same category it applies to white supremacist groups and terrorists — after months of tracking its involvement in protests around the US.
“This violent network is banned from having a presence on our platform and we will remove content praising, supporting or representing it,” Facebook said in a Tuesday blog post. “It is actively promoting violence against civilians, law enforcement and government officials and institutions.”
Authorities have tied boogaloo activists to acts of violence stemming from recent protests over the police killing of George Floyd, which Facebook indicated was a factor in its decision. Followers of the movement have varying ideologies but are generally anticipating a second American civil war.
Facebook said it removed more than 300 Facebook and Instagram accounts, 28 pages and 106 groups on Tuesday in an effort to dismantle the violent boogaloo presence on its platforms. The company also took down more than 400 groups and more than 100 pages that “hosted similar content as the violent network we disrupted but were maintained by accounts outside of it,” according to the blog post.
Facebook’s move came after US Attorney General William Barr set up a government task force to combat boogaloo extremists. Among the members of the movement charged in recent weeks is Air Force sergeant Steven Carillo, who has been accused of killing a California sheriff’s deputy in May.
Facebook launched the crackdown amid an advertising boycott pushing the company to more aggressively tackle hate speech. A wide range of major companies including Verizon, Ford, Best Buy and Unilever have pledged to pause ads on Facebook for a month or more following calls from civil-rights groups.
In response, Facebook has said it is talking with marketers and civil-rights organizations about how to be “a force for good.” Its stock price has nonetheless dropped about 3.6 percent since the boycott campaign began.