Facebook has been sued for allegedly “promoting extremist content” among far-right “boogaloo” groups linked to the assassination of a federal officer.
— Angela Underwood Jacobs filed a lawsuit against Facebook, alleging that the company “knowingly promoted extremist information.”
— Dave Patrick Underwood, her brother, was killed in a drive-by shooting in May 2020.
— The gunman’s suspected ties to “boogaloo,” a far-right extremist movement mentioned in many Facebook groups, were discovered.
Facebook has been accused of encouraging violence and hate crimes once again.
Angela Underwood Jacobs, the sister of Dave Patrick Underwood, a federal officer murdered during the 2020 racial justice demonstrations, has filed a lawsuit against Facebook’s parent company Meta for allegedly “knowingly distributing extremist content” that led to her brother’s death.
When a van pulled up outside the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, California, on May 29, 2020, and launched a shooting spree that left the deceased’s colleague injured.
Underwood was shot and murdered. His death came just five days after the slaying of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality.
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The deceased federal officer’s sister claimed in the lawsuit, which was filed in California Superior Court on Wednesday, that the social media platform connected people who “planned to engage in acts of violence against federal law enforcement officers and inevitably “helped build” dangerous groups that planned deadly acts”.
She notably criticizes Facebook for failing to adequately control online communities such as radical far-right “boogaloo” organizations, an anti-government movement aimed at inciting a race war and linked to alleged gunman Steven Carrillo.
In a statement, Underwood Jacobs stated, “Facebook bears culpability for my brother’s murder.” “Facebook must be held accountable for the pain it has caused not only my family, but countless others” “by pushing extremist content and facilitating the formation of extremist groups on its site”
The claims, according to Kevin McAlister, Facebook’s policy communications manager, “are without legal basis”
“We’ve removed over 1,000 militaristic social movements from our platform and are collaborating with experts to address the bigger issue of internet radicalization,” McAlister added.
In the months since, the firm has been scrutinized for its apparent role in provoking other violent incidents, including the Capitol riot on January 6. Facebook has repeatedly denied accusations that it has done too little to combat the spread of misinformation and harmful content on its platform.
According to The Guardian, analysts at the Network Contagion Research Institute, a group that tracks online extremism, initially predicted an attack like the one against Underwood more than three months before his death.
The researchers discovered multiple Facebook groups focusing on the idea of a race war dubbed “the boogaloo” by the researchers.
While Facebook said at the time that it was looking into the use of the phrase and that it would remove any content that broke its policy against inciting hate crimes or violence, it never explicitly banned the groups or removed many of them.