Facebook deleted almost 900 accounts associated with two organizations that the corporation finds to be hate groups and suspended from their platforms: Proud Boys and American Guard.
Facebook officials told ABC News that the organization had completed a network interruption, initially started by their security teams against Proud Boys and the American Guard on May 30. The social media’s internal monitors began to see traffic from both organizations. It was suggesting that they planned to send armed agitators to ongoing protests set off in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
“We accelerated our investigation and enforcement to remove the accounts, pages, and groups we had found by that point and then continued our work mapping out the rest of the network,” the officials said.
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A Facebook employee familiar with the matter told CNN the social media platform would act on people using the platform to organize violence regardless of their political affiliation.
The social media platform deleted 358 Facebook accounts in total, and 172 Instagram accounts linked to the organization known as Proud Boys. They deleted 406 Facebook accounts and 164 Instagram accounts, which were related to the American Guard community.
Reuters reported that the takedowns of more than 500 Facebook accounts and more than 300 Instagram accounts followed a smaller round of suspensions two weeks ago.
Facebook noted people affiliated with the American Guard community discussing carrying arms to the national demonstrations that are taking place.
The social media platform also took down accounts connected to the far-right Proud Boys party who are not posting anything about bringing weapons to the protests.
The company said it was planning to take action against both groups. Still, when they saw how the groups were discussing the protests, they had accelerated the process.
“In both cases, we saw accounts from both organizations discussing attending protests in various US states with plans to carry weapons, but we did not find indications in their on-platform content they planned to actively commit violence,” the company said.
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The Proud Boys were founded in 2016 by one of Vice Media’s leaders, Gavin McInnes. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Proud Boys are self-described “anti-political correct” and “anti-white” while denying any association with the alt-right.
American Guard, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), has a history with links to anti-immigrant bigotry, racism, and abuse. However, before the American Guard was renamed, it was the Indiana chapter of the Odin USA Soldiers. It was a branch of an extreme anti-immigrant and anti-refugee community that started in Finland in 2015 and spread to many other countries.
Facebook had previously suspended various groups on its platform for hate promotion. Still, individual leaders continued to post photographs with guns while encouraging others to join demonstrations that followed George Floyd’s murder in police custody in Minneapolis.