Facebook continues to take ongoing public criticism from people on both sides of the socio-political spectrum for not “correctly” or “fairly” policing content on the site. On one side are people who argue Facebook is unfairly targeting only certain points of view, and, on the other side, are people who believe Facebook is turning a blind eye toward harmful political speech.
Now, in a decision that Facebook hopes will help unite the majority on both sides, the social media giant is banning hundreds of accounts of groups and pages their spokesmen say are “related to the Boogaloo movement,” which is a loosely organized extremist group that has been making appearances at protests and other political events around the country.
Facebook says these groups have been using social media to increase their communication and organizing their message, and the company wants no part of that.
The decision means that more than 200 Facebook accounts and nearly 100 Instagram accounts, as well as dozens of related pages and groups, have been deleted from the social media platform.
Facebook announced the decision with a statement that described the group members as “a credible threat” which posed a danger to public safety, adding that members claiming affiliation with these groups were “actively promoting violence against civilians, law enforcement, and government officials and institutions…”
Facebook alleges that these people were using the platform as a recruitment tool for “clearly violent purposes,” according to media reports of the decision. This specific move was in addition to a larger purging of similar pages and groups that include more than 400 groups and 100 pages that “hosted similar content” or messages, according to Facebook staffers.
While these groups were not “primarily operated by members” of affiliated Boogaloo groups, the targeted pages often posted content that praised the movement without directly calling for violence.
In the statement, Facebook said: “Officials have identified violent adherents to the movement as those responsible for several attacks over the past few months… These acts of real-world violence and our investigations into them are what led us to identify and designate this distinct network…”
This move highlights yet another step by the massive social media organization in an ongoing effort to walk the line between policing content and being a forum for free speech. This effort has been tightly focused in recent weeks as Facebook responds to the exodus of several big-name advertisers, a list that, as of this writing, now includes Coca-Cola and Ford.
The statement offered by Facebook sends a clear message that, despite what some critics allege, the company is taking content seriously, and will remove those who abuse the privilege of connecting on their platform.
That will be welcome news for some, but this PR issue remains a moving target for a company that has been publicly hesitant to draw a clear line on this issue.