TTP Report: Border Militias Use Facebook to Spread Migrant Conspiracies
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 19, 2022
Contact: Michael Clauw, email@example.com, 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 revealing that Facebook is allowing self-styled border militia groups to operate on its platform in violation of company policy and spread baseless conspiracy theories, often inspired by QAnon, about migrants arriving from Mexico. This investigation is the latest in a series of reports by TTP on how social media is affecting the lives of migrants, exposing them to misinformation, expanding the outreach of human smugglers, creating new opportunities for visa scams, and whipping up anti-migrant sentiment in Mexican communities along the journey north. These latest findings show that Facebook is creating even more danger for migrants by hosting armed border militias driven by fringe conspiracies.
Campaign for Accountability Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said, “Unfortunately, the trend of militia and vigilante groups targeting migrants long predates social media. But Facebook is giving these extrajudicial groups an unprecedented platform to recruit and inflame followers through the unchecked distribution of misinformation and conspiracy theories.”
The groups identified by TTP regularly post about conducting border security operations, display weapons, and make references to violence—exhibiting characteristics of “militia communities” that Facebook says it bans. These groups spread an array of misinformation about the situation at the border, ranging from unfounded claims that U.S. border agents are smuggling migrants into the country with the help of Mexican drug cartels to the widely debunked conspiracy theory that billionaire George Soros is financing a migrant “invasion.”
TTP also found border militias drawing on the baseless QAnon conspiracy to claim that migrant children are frequent victims of sex trafficking, despite a lack of evidence to support that claim. According to Southern Poverty Law Center, members of Veterans on Patrol (VOP)—one of the Facebook-active militia groups documented in TTP’s report—have collected the personal details of migrants near the Arizona border in order to track children, believing they’re at risk of being sent “to the homes of U.S.-based pedophiles and human traffickers.”
Ms. Kuppersmith continued, “The people spreading and absorbing these dangerous conspiracies are not only armed, they’ve proven perfectly willing to accost migrants when they’re at their most vulnerable. If Facebook does not do a better job of enforcing its bans against these dangerous groups, the threat to migrants posed by radicalized militias will only grow.”
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.