Four years after first banning the Proud Boys, Facebook parent company Meta had to remove nearly 500 new accounts linked to the far-right group trying to organize on its platforms.
Meta removed accounts linked to people, groups, and events associated with the Proud Boys, a group with ties to political violence and white extremist organizations in the United States, whose leader Anti-terrorism policy Meta Dina Hussein confirmed in a Twitter parcel Thursday.
Hussein’s team identified and deleted the accounts after evidence of hate speech and other “hostile behavior” emerged.
“Our team recently discovered and removed a network of about 480 Proud Boys accounts,” Hussein announced, adding that her team had removed about 750 accounts and groups associated with the organization. this year on Meta platforms including Facebook and Instagram.
Hussein said that her team used a strategy known as a “network disruption strategy,” which blacked out the entire online Proud Boys network that Meta identified at once.
Strategic network disruption is a relatively new addition to Meta’s arsenal of censorship and security, as the company has increasingly focused on fighting online terrorism and extremist groups.
The group used Facebook extensively to promote and recruit new members, according to a 2018 report by TechCrunch. Proud Boys regularly uses its social media platform and algorithms to display detailed and extensive instructions for potential members to follow and eventually join its ranks.
Meta platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, used similar tactics in 2020 to ban accounts peddling QAnon conspiracy theories and associated with the anti-government “boogaloo” movement.
But despite Facebook’s best efforts, these bans have not always been successful.
No ‘silver bullet’
Months after the QAnon account was banned from Facebook, individual accounts on the platform — many of which have a “massive following” — continue to openly discuss conspiracy theories regarding QAnon, according to a report of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a nonpartisan news rating and consulting organization NewsGuard.
In his post, Hussein noted that rival groups continue to “change tactics” to avoid detection and return to platforms they were previously banned from.
Organizations like Proud Boys — once known for proudly endorse their views online– is now operating with stealth tactics, with members even concealing their organizations, according to Hussein.
Hussein wrote that there is no “silver bullet” to remove extremist organizations from social media platforms, although the persistence and evasion of groups like the Proud Boys are demanding new strategies. , as network interruption strategy, must be used.
The bans and policy strategies that Meta adopted in recent years have been successful in reducing the presence of groups like the Proud Boys on Facebook and Instagram, although many of these organizations are known to have switch to more user-friendly platforms.
Proud Boys activity has dropped significantly on platforms including Facebook and Twitter, by one year 2020 research by the Middlebury Institute’s Center for Counterterrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism.
But many of those users have already turned to other social media apps like Telegram, which gained prominence this year as the Selected social media apps during the Ukraine War against the Ukrainians as well as the Russians.
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