Vast Network of Right-Wing Extremists Use Private Facebook Groups to Organize for Imminent Civil War
TTP investigation reveals extremists are harnessing anti-government sentiment and disruption to American society in response to coronavirus lockdowns to prepare for coming militant uprising.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 22, 2020
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 new study revealing how far-right extremist groups are using Facebook to push for a militant uprising in response to coronavirus lockdowns. The review by TTP found 125 Facebook groups devoted to the “boogaloo,” the term that far-right extremists use to describe a coming civil war. The number and overall membership of these public and private groups has been growing quickly during the coronavirus, and Facebook has failed to remove them despite the violent rhetoric used by “boogaloo” supporters.
CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens said, “Facebook’s failure to stop their platform from being used as an organizing tool for extremists is completely unacceptable. There is nothing subtle about how these extremist groups are using Facebook’s platform to advance their cause. Boogaloo proponents are not simply discussing ideas or political views; they are directly advocating for violent action and tactically planning how to defeat government entities.”
One real world incident occurred on April 11, 2020, when an armed boogaloo supporter used Facebook live to broadcast his attempt to kill a police officer in Texarkana, Texas. The man was apprehended by authorities before he was able to cause harm, but he was still able to post live videos of his attempt on his pseudonym Facebook profile before being caught. The man’s same profile has liked over a dozen “boogaloo” pages across Facebook.
The sudden rise in “boogaloo” support coincides with anti-government rhetoric in response to measures taken by federal, state, and local governments to prevent the coronavirus. Of the 125 boogaloo-focused groups TTP identified on Facebook, over 60 percent of them were created between February and April of this year. Together, the groups have more than 72,000 members, and nearly half of these members have joined the groups within the past 30 days. TTP also uncovered several conversations in “boogaloo” groups discussing how best to act on President Trump’s April 17 tweets calling for Americans to “LIBERATE” certain states with Democratic governors who had issued lockdown orders.
TTP found many of these groups to be highly organized and embracing violent actions. One of the most popular “boogaloo” public pages on Facebook, “Thicc Boog Line,” is an administrator to at least 11 private Facebook groups dedicated to planning for a second civil war. The groups are organized into tactical roles such as intelligence collection, technology, communication, machinery, combat medicine, and weapons discussion. They also appear to have a “backup group” to be used in the event that the others are removed from Facebook.
Mr. Stevens continued, “This is not a case of extremists outsmarting Facebook. By allowing these pages to exist, Facebook is demonstrating a clear unwillingness to protect the public from possible domestic terrorists. Unless Facebook takes substantive action to break up these dangerous online communities, there is a very real risk of violence spilling out into the streets.”
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.