One hundred days before Dave Patrick Underwood was murdered on 29 May, a group of analysts who monitor online extremism concluded that an attack like the one that killed him was coming.
An anti-government movement intent on killing law enforcement officers had been growing rapidly on social media, the analysts at the Network Contagion Research Institute warned.
Building on the work of other analysts, the researchers had identified Facebook groups where thousands of members obsessed over the idea of an imminent American civil war called “the Boogaloo”, displaying photographs of rifles and combat equipment, sharing advice for making weapons and posting memes about killing police and federal officials. The Facebook groups were particularly dangerous, the researchers concluded, because they were helping to build local connections between nascent domestic extremists. The movement appeared to be successfully recruiting members of the US military.
Facebook responded to findings that it was “studying trends” around the use of the word “Boogaloo” on its platforms, and that it would remove any content that violated its rules against inciting hatred or violence. Over the next few months, a spokesperson said, it would remove 800 individual Boogaloo-related posts that violated its policies. But it did not ban the Boogaloo movement from its platform, or take the majority of the Boogaloo groups down. [Continue reading…]