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Amid Criticism Of How It Handles Hate Speech, Facebook Bans ‘Boogaloo’ Network




Armed protesters demonstrate during the Michigan Conservative Coalition organized
Armed protesters demonstrate during the Michigan Conservative Coalition organized "Operation Haircut" outside the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on May 20, 2020.
JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images

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Facebook has banned an extremist anti-government network loosely associated with the broader “boogaloo” movement, a slang term supporters use to refer to a second Civil War or a collapse of civilization.

But the platform didn’t try to name the group, underscoring the difficulty of grappling with an amorphous network linked to a string of domestic terror plots that appears to obfuscate its existence. Among other complications, its internet-savvy members tend to keep their distance from one another, frequently change their symbols and catch phrases and mask their intentions with sarcasm.

The move by Facebook designates this group as a dangerous organization similar to the Islamic State group and white supremacists, both of which are already banned from its service. The social network is not banning all references to “boogaloo” and said it is only removing groups, accounts and pages when they have a “clear connection to violence or a credible threat to public safety.”

We dive into Facebook’s decision and more broadly look at social media’s approach to and regulation of hate speech. 

With files from the Associated Press.

Guests:

Rachael Levy, reporter covering domestic terrorism for The Wall Street Journal who’s been covering this; she tweets @rachael_levy

Ashutosh Bhagwat, professor of law at UC Davis; he specializes in the First Amendment; his recent book is “Our Democratic First Amendment” (June 2020, Cambridge University Press)