TTP Investigation: Facebook’s Continued Failure to Crack Down on Militia Groups
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2021
Contact: Michael Clauw, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog group that runs the Tech Transparency Project (TTP), released a report showing that the company is leaving some gaping holes in its crackdown on militia groups, raising questions for CEO Mark Zuckerberg as he prepares to testify to Congress for the first time since the U.S. Capitol riot. This report is the latest in TTP’s efforts to chronicle the prevalence of dangerous militant groups on Facebook since long before the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
CfA Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said, “For nearly a year, Facebook has been aware that its platform is home to domestic extremists who use the service to organize and recruit. One would assume that the Capitol riot would have been the wake-up call it needed to finally eradicate these groups from the platform, but the problem persists.”
This investigation identified 201 militia pages and 13 militia groups on Facebook as of March 18, more than two months after the Capitol riot. Roughly 70% (140) of the Facebook pages identified by TTP had the word “militia” in their name, making them hard to miss. The findings raise questions about Facebook’s repeated assurances that its artificial intelligence technology is successfully detecting and removing policy violations like hate speech and terrorist content.
TTP’s investigation found that Facebook is not just allowing these militias to exist on the platform, it is actually creating some of the content itself. About 17 percent of the militia pages identified by TTP (34) were auto-generated by Facebook, most of them with the word “militia” in their names. This has been a recurring issue with Facebook. A TTP investigation in May 2020 found that Facebook had auto-generated business pages for white supremacist groups.
TTP also discovered that Facebook is continuing to allow militias to use its Events feature. A Facebook page called “Tennessee Patriots Militia,” created on December 6, 2020, has used the events feature on three occasions to organize meetings of group members. The most recent event page for a “final start up meeting,” on Feb. 27, featured a skull with the III% symbol in one of the eyes, a reference to the anti-government group Three Percenters.
Ms. Kuppersmith continued, “Facebook is not just allowing this problem to persist, it is contributing to it. When Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress on Thursday, we urge members to ask pointed questions that get to the bottom of why the platform continues to serve as a meeting place for dangerous radicals.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.