OAKLAND, California (AP) – Facebook has banned an extremist anti-government network loosely linked to the broader ‘boogaloo’ movement, a snake used by followers to refer to a second civil war or civilization collapse.
But the platform tried not to name the group, underscoring the difficulty of struggling with an amorphous network connected to a series of domestic terror plots that seem to obscure its existence. Among other complications, the internet-conscious members tend to keep their distance from each other, often changing their symbols and capturing sentences and masking their intentions with sarcasm.
Facebook’s move marks this group as a dangerous organization similar to the Islamic State group and white supremacists, both of whom have already been banned. The social network doesn’t ban all references to ‘boogaloo’, saying it only removes groups, accounts and pages if they have a ‘clear connection to violence or a credible threat to public security.’
The loose part is named after “Breakin ‘2: Electric Boogaloo”, a 1984 sequel to a breakdancing movie. ‘Boogaloo’ supporters have turned up to protests over COVID-19 lock orders, with guns and tactical gear over Hawaiian shirts – themselves a reference to ‘big luau’, a ‘boogaloo’ homophone that is sometimes preferred by group members. Facebook said the move dates back to 2012 and has been following it closely since last year.
Earlier in June, Steven Carrillo, an air force sergeant with ties to the boogaloo movement, fatally shot and killed a federal security officer and wounded his partner outside a U.S. courthouse, robbed and killed a California sheriff’s deputy, and injured four other officers in Oakland, California. According to the criminal complaint, Carrillo posted in a Facebook group: ‘It is now on our coast, this must be rural. It’s a great opportunity to focus on the special soup bois. Keep that energy going. ‘
The statement was followed by two fire emojis and a link to a YouTube video in which a large crowd attacked two California Highway Patrol vehicles. According to the FBI, soup bois may be a term followers of the boogaloo movement used to refer to federal law enforcement officers.
While the term ‘boogaloo’ has been embraced by white supremacist groups and other far-right extremists, many supporters insist they are not racist or really advocate violence.
Violent and extremist groups are increasingly turning to encrypted communication networks and social peripheral platforms without content modulation converging, making them more difficult to follow.
As part of Tuesday’s announcement, Facebook said it has removed 220 Facebook accounts, 95 Instagram accounts, 28 pages, and 106 groups that are part of the violent Boogaloo affiliate network. It also removed 400 other groups and 100 pages that hosted similar content to the violent network, but were maintained by accounts outside of it.
The company said it has so far found no evidence that foreign actors are reinforcing the “boogaloo” -related material.
Social media companies face a hate speech on their platforms. , Reddit, an online commenting forum that is one of the world’s most popular websites, banned a forum on Monday that supported President Donald Trump as part of a crackdown on hate speech.
Live streaming site Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, has also temporarily suspended Trump’s campaign account for violating the hateful rules of conduct. YouTube, meanwhile, banned several prominent white nationalist figures from its platform, including Stefan Molyneux, David Duke and Richard Spencer.
Civil rights organizations have called on major advertisers to stop Facebook ad campaigns in July, saying that the social network is not doing enough to curtail racist and violent content on its platform and several major advertisers have signed up to boycott.
Associated Press Writer Michael Kunzelman contributed to this story from Silver Spring, Md.
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