On October 12th, the Intercept published a document of targeted Facebook accounts titled “Facebook Dangerous Individuals and Organizations List” quantifying the company’s knowledge and depth on which terrorism and hate groups have utilized the social media giant. The list, some 100 pages, likely goes back to 2012, and was most likely the internal database on which Facebook used to justify the great 2020 “purge” when the company arbitrarily de-platformed Conservative groups and anything its AI deemed “extremist” content. But by examining the numbers, it emerges that the company was (and likely continues to be) more focused on targeting U.S. groups and users—and less about legitimate terrorists, cartels, or crime syndicates using its global platform.
Broken down, the numbers detail that while users/accounts in the Unites States ranked at the top of the database (52%), the top three groups identified as “Dangerous Individuals” were Armed Militia Groups (33%) in the United States, such as III%ers, various state militias, or gun/survivalist clubs. These groups constituted the bulk of the 2020 purge when Facebook, criticized for being a tool used by the Boogaloo movement after two lone-wolves (Steven Carrillo and Robert Justus Jr.) killed two law enforcement members. As a result Facebook banned a hundreds of groups and thousands of individual users citing “dangerous organizations”, many of which were pro-2A or even legitimate businesses that had nothing to do with the societal uprisings and riots at the time. The other two groups included the (arguably) former terrorist group ISIS (18%), and al Qaeda (17%), which now controls the entire country of Afghanistan after the botched 2021 withdrawal by the Biden Administration. This proves that in conjunction with focusing primarily on U.S. users, Facebook has struggled to identify and remove terrorists from using its platform despite continued attempts and assurances to do so. This premise is only strengthened when taken into consideration that Facebook has increasingly banned or blocked Conservative politicians ahead of the 2020 elections, to include the former President of the United States Donald Trump.
But the Dangerous Individuals/Organizations list should be taken with a grain of salt. Without direct access to the Facebok database the list is incomplete, with some categories lacking complete entries (either as no information was available or purposely omitted). Moreover, the list is dated with some groups, such as ISIS’s Dabiq, and individuals no longer active or alive. Facebook has resisted multiple attempts to disclose this list, undoubtedly because of various law enforcement of other types of investigations related to monitoring social media activities.
But if anything should be taken away from just how far Facebook is willing to go in targeting Americans it should be this—the social media giant is no longer working in the interests of public safety nor community development. It is willing to permit violent jihadists and criminals use of its platform so long as its political and financial objectives are met. Moreover, users should take heed that their content, likes, and activites will be catelogued and used at any given time against them. The time has come for Congress to step in and rip the company from Mark Zuckerberg’s lifeless hands and either broken up into more trustworthy entities, or heavily regulated with extensive oversight and transparency.