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BANNED: Facebook counterterrorism unit ejects Trump’s violent Proud Boys from platform

BANNED: Facebook counterterrorism unit ejects Trump’s violent Proud Boys from platform

BANNED: Facebook counterterrorism unit ejects Trump's violent Proud Boys from platform

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Dina Hussein, Counterterrorism Policy lead for Facebook and its parent company Meta, announced the removal of hundreds of accounts tied to the Proud Boys and other hate groups. Hussein — who handles issues associated with violent extremism and radicalization for Facebook, Instagram, and other Meta properties — says approximately 480 accounts have been taken down – bringing the year-to-date total to nearly 750.

The Meta executive says that the company is committed to removing the offending accounts through “strategic network disruptions,” or SNDs.

The Proud Boys, one of the most high-profile extremist groups, were banned from Meta’s social media network in 2018 just days before the midterm elections. According to Proud Boys founder, Gavin McInnes, it was “hysteria.”

“The left knows they are going to lose this election so they are ramping up the hysteria with fake news and censorship in a last-ditch effort to win,” McInnes said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the Proud Boys a “hate group,” and reported that, prior to their ban, the organization was using private “vetting pages,” on Facebook to recruit members:

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“Six of the Proud Boys’ largest private ‘vetting pages’ on Facebook — groups where administrators review applicants for approval into a private chatroom where local chapters are organized — have experienced an explosion in recruits in the last 30 days since the melee in Portland, jumping nearly 70 percent according to the metrics Facebook makes public. This represents 823 potential new members (including international members),” the SPLC wrote.

“These private vetting pages serve as ideological echo chambers and as spaces for planning and putting out calls for action, helping place Proud Boys on the ground. The Proud Boys once attempted to set up their own private web forum called the “Proud Boards” but it failed,” the SPLC added.

In May 2020 – a year after the Christchurch massacre – Facebook announced a commitment to combatting hate on the platform. Outlining a plan and information metrics that tracked behavior.

“We continue delivering on our commitments to the nine-point action plan for digital platforms, including publishing regular reports on detection and removal of terrorist or violent extremist content on our apps,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

“We ban groups that proclaim a hateful and violent mission from having a presence on our apps and we remove content that represents, praises or supports them.”

According to Facebook, the social media company removed 4.7 million pieces of content on its platform in the first three months of 2020 alone – an increase from the 3 million removed the previous quarter.

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Banned groups have continued to operate on the platforms, changing techniques and disguising affiliation with The Proud Boys and other hate-promoting groups.

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“We work with external partners to get the latest intelligence about adversarial behavior across the internet, and we commission independent research from academics and experts,” the social media platform says.

“For example, we’ve seen that violations for organized hate are more likely to involve memes while terrorist propaganda is often dispersed from a central media arm of the organization and includes formalized branding. Identifying these patterns helps us continue to fine tune the systems for detecting organized hate and terrorist content.”

Dina Hussein says Meta’s tactics are “impacting these dangerous organizations,” and vows that the company will “stay vigilant.”

Removing the violating pages from Facebook will put a wrench in the plans of those screaming for “Civil War” on the right. While there are still right-wing supported platforms like Parler, Gab, private encrypted chat rooms, and alt-right sites like 4Chan and 8Kun – they lack the reach of one of the world’s largest social media companies.

This means that Hussein and the Meta network will have their work cut out for them going forward as the right-wing conspirators try to infiltrate the mainstream.

Original reporting by The Associated Press.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

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Ty Ross
News journalist for Occupy Democrats.

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