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Meta removes Proud Boys network secretly organising on Facebook and Instagram

·2-min read

Meta has removed more than 450 accounts, pages, and groups linked to the Proud Boys on Facebook and Instagram, four years after the far-right extremist group was banned across its platforms.

“Our team recently uncovered and took down a network of about 480 Proud Boys accounts, Pages, groups, and events,” Dina Hussein, counterterrorism policy lead at Meta, tweeted on Thursday.

“We know adversarial groups like this continue changing tactics, trying to evade detection and come back,” Ms Hussein added.

Monika Bickert, Meta’s vice president of content policy, said the company has taken down a total of around 750 Proud Boys “assets” as part of the company’s strategic network disruptions.

“We will continue to refine our targeted approach to adversarial threats as well as our scaled enforcement,” she said.

The company said people behind the network are not identifying themselves as Proud Boys openly.

Meta said users behind these organising efforts are creating front groups and using Facebook or Instagram to steer people to other, less moderated platforms.

Ms Hussein said Meta uses a technique called strategic network disruptions (SND) to take down such organising efforts.

“While there’s no silver bullet here, our approach is impacting these dangerous organisations, and we can see adversaries trying harder to hide their affiliation & change tactics. We’ll continue to stay vigilant and share our findings,” she said.

“We plan on continuing to share more about this tactic and how we use strategic network disruptions to keep our platforms safe,” the Counterterrorism Policy Lead said.

Proud Boys’ former leader and other members of the group were charged earlier this year for their involvement in the US Capitol riots on 6 January 2021.

While the group has been banned from Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms, members have attempted to use the platform by bypassing its detection systems.

In the latest crackdown, Meta took down 480 accounts, posts, and groups linked to the extremist network.

“This was a network of pages and groups, Instagram and Facebook accounts, so some of these were accounts, not just pages or groups. But all of them were linked to this network that was the Proud Boys,” Ms Bickert said.