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30 Jun, 2020 23:56

Facebook bans hundreds of ‘boogaloo’ accounts in latest purge, citing ‘real-world violence’ from ‘anti-government network’

Facebook bans hundreds of ‘boogaloo’ accounts in latest purge, citing ‘real-world violence’ from ‘anti-government network’

Hundreds of Facebook profiles said to be part of a “violent anti-government network” linked to the loose-knit “boogaloo” movement have been permanently deleted, the latest in a wave of mass bans targeting the political right.

Some 220 accounts, 106 groups and 28 pages were scrubbed from Facebook on Tuesday, the company said in a statement, alleging they were tied to a “dangerous organization” that had carried out real acts of violence. Ninety-five accounts on Facebook-owned Instagram also got the boot.

“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 announcing the decision. 

Acts of real-world violence and our investigations into them are what led us to identify and designate this distinct network.

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The accounts in question were “actively promoting violence against civilians, law enforcement and government officials,” the company went on, adding that they had worked to recruit others within the “broader boogaloo movement,” a loosely organized group of activists who see civil conflict as inevitable and prepare for a coming societal collapse. Though the movement – largely based online and heavily steeped in meme culture – has been widely tarred as “far-right” and “extremist,” its members have an eclectic range of views, including libertarians and conservatives as well as more militant nationalists and even neo-Nazis. 

While Facebook cited no specific examples of real-world violence from the group – which derives its name from a 1984 breakdancing flick, ‘Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo’ – a number of alleged members have been accused of carrying out attacks on police and conspiring to destroy government property amid ongoing protests over the law enforcement killing of George Floyd, among other things. Direct affiliation to the group has not been clear in all cases, however.

The Facebook bans come amid a renewed push to cleanse social media platforms of conservatives and those right-of-center, with similar purges on Monday targeting pro-Trump accounts on Twitch and Reddit, as well as a number of other right-leaning figures on YouTube. Such mass-bans have become commonplace in recent years, at times appearing coordinated across different platforms.

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Facebook drew heated criticism following the deletions, with a number of netizens asking why Antifa-linked accounts – a decentralized grouping of radical leftists who often engage in violent ‘direct action’ at protests – still had not seen a similar purge.

While Facebook claimed to distinguish between the wider boogaloo movement and particular individuals inciting violence, keyword-based algorithmic bans appear to have already swept up unrelated accounts – perhaps a harbinger of things to come. One user who said he had never heard of the group was nonetheless caught up in the purge, stating he merely belonged to a Facebook group that parodied the same film title.

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