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Lois Beckett has this special report for us this morning – inside the Boogaloo killings of US law enforcement:

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.

Two months later, another report warned of the Boogaloo movement’s “explicit threats of violence to government authorities”. There were now at least 125 Boogaloo groups on Facebook, the Tech Transparency Project said. The groups had added tens of thousands of members in the last 30 days alone, as coronavirus lockdown measures made some Americans furious about what they perceived as government “tyranny”. More than half of these Facebook groups had been created since February.

This time, Facebook said it had removed some groups and pages that used Boogaloo-related terms for violating Facebook policies. But none of the Facebook groups explicitly mentioned in the Tech Transparency report had been taken down, HuffPost reported, even though the online rhetoric was already translating into action: earlier in April, Texas police arrested Aaron Swenson, a man who had reportedly “liked” more than a dozen Boogaloo-related pages, and who police said had been livestreaming himself on Facebook as he drove around looking for a cop to execute.

Read more of Lois Beckett’s worrying report here: 100 days of warning – inside the Boogaloo killings of US law enforcement

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