Facebook sued over Boogaloo-linked killing of federal police officer

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Facebook has faced scrutiny for not doing enough to crack down on extremist groups.

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The sister of a slain federal security official sued Facebook, which changed its name to Meta, accusing the social network of taking responsibility for her brother’s murder because the platform linked users to extremist groups and circulated inflammatory content. was promoting.

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In May 2020, Dave Patrick Underwood was killed in a drive-by shooting guarding a federal building and courthouse in Oakland to protest the police killing of George Floyd. The 53-year-old officer was a contractor in the Department of Homeland Security. Federal officials say the suspected gunman, Steven Carrillo, was linked to the anti-government extremist Boogaloo movement.

The lawsuit says Facebook linked Air Force Sergeant Carrillo with Robert Alvin Justus Jr., who was charged with aiding and abetting Underwood’s murder. The lawsuit says that the social network recommended Justus to join groups related to Boogaloo, which led to him meeting Carrillo on stage. Justus was reportedly driving the van when Carrillo fired shots through the open passenger-side sliding door on May 29, 2020.

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“The shooting was not a random act of violence. It was the culmination of an extremist conspiracy hatched and planned by two men at Facebook, which Meta linked to through Facebook’s infrastructure of groups and the use of its algorithms.” and was designed to increase user engagement and, accordingly, Meta’s profits,” the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Angela Underwood Jacobs in California Superior Court, states.

Online platforms are protected from liability for content posted by users under a federal law called Section 230, but the lawsuit alleges that those protections do not apply in this case. The lawsuit accuses Facebook of promoting extremist groups to engage users on the site, thereby helping the company’s ad sales. Jacobs is seeking more than $25,000 in damages from Facebook.

Facebook spokesman Kevin McAllister said the claims made in the lawsuit are “without legal basis”.

“We have banned more than 1,000 militarized social movements from our platform and work closely with experts to address the widespread issue of Internet bigotry,” he said.

In June 2020, Facebook banned the Boogaloo movement, designating it as a dangerous organization.

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