Facebook has placed at least 986 groups on a private list of banned ‘militarized social movements’, internal Facebook documents show published by The interception. The documents hint at the scale of Facebook’s militia organization – something the company has cracked down on in August 2020.
Militarized social movements are part of Facebook’s broader list of “dangerous individuals and organizations”, which The interception posted a snapshot of in its entirety. The term refers to armed groups that promote armed conflict, as well as groups that support violence or looting during protests; in practice, it is apparently made up largely of right-wing militias with some left-wing, anarchist, or generally anti-government organizations.
Facebook’s list of “dangerous individuals” also includes white supremacist groups, hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, and branches of Al-Qaeda and other global terrorist organizations. All are prohibited from maintaining any pages, groups or profiles on the Service. Beyond that, categories are categorized into tiers. Level 1 includes hate and terrorist groups, and Facebook users cannot commend or support them in any form. Tier 2 includes “violent non-state actors” such as armed rebels who can only be hired for their non-violent activities. Militarized Social Movements are designated as Level 3, which have no comparable restrictions on how users discuss them.
Facebook noted in October 2020 that it had identified 600 militarized social movements and removed around 2,400 pages and 14,200 groups maintained by them. The company also said it removed 1,700 pages and 5,600 groups associated with QAnon – which is designated as a militarized social movement but is not an organized group.
As The interception notes, group designations may be blurred. A subset of the violent boogaloo movement, for example, is classified as a Level 1 terrorist organization, while the broader movement is a militarized social movement. The designation also includes news outlets like the Anarchist Site He is going down – which theoretically could have been grouped under the umbrella of “supporting violent acts amid protests” but is listed as an “armed militia”.
Facebook has been criticized for its enforcement that is both too lax and too punitive. But more recently, it has come under general scrutiny for not disclosing details of its operations to outside researchers or decision-makers, making it harder to assess its moderation strategy.
In statements to The edgeFacebook said it had not previously published the list because posting too many details could compromise the effectiveness of moderation.
First, Facebook does not want violence organized or facilitated on its platform and the DOI list is an effort to prevent high-risk groups from doing so. It’s not perfect, but that’s what it exists for. 2/n
—Brian Fishman (@brianfishman) October 12, 2021
“This is an adversarial space, so we try to be as transparent as possible while prioritizing safety, limiting legal risks and preventing groups from circumventing our rules,” Brian Fishman said. , Director of Counterterrorism and Dangerous Organizations Policy. In a Twitter feed, Fishman added that the leaked list was “not exhaustive” and was constantly being updated. “Facebook does not want violence to be organized or facilitated on its platform and the [dangerous individuals and organizations] listing is an effort to prevent high-risk groups from doing so. It’s not perfect, but that’s why it exists. he tweeted.
Update at 5:45 p.m. ET: Added tweet thread from Brian Fishman.