Home Tech Extremist militias coordinate in more than 100 Facebook groups

Extremist militias coordinate in more than 100 Facebook groups

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Extremist militias coordinate in more than 100 Facebook groups

“Join your local Militia or III% Patriot Group,” a post urged the more than 650 members of a Facebook group called Free American Army. Accompanied by the logo of the Three Percenters militia network and an image of a man in tactical gear holding a long rifle, the post continues: “Now more than ever. Support the American military page.”

Other content and messages in the group are similar. And even though Facebook bans the paramilitary organization and deemed the Three Percenters an “armed militia group” in its 2021 report. List of dangerous people and organizationsthe post and group remained until WIRED contacted Meta for comment on its existence.

The Free American Army is just one of about 200 similar Facebook groups and profiles, most of which are still active, that anti-government and far-right extremists are using to coordinate local militia activity across the country.

After lying low for several years following the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, extremist militias have been quietly reorganizing, ramping up recruiting and rhetoric on Facebook, apparently with little concern that Meta will enforce its ban against them, according to new research. by the Tech Transparency Project, shared exclusively with WIRED.

People across the United States with long-standing ties to militia groups are creating networks of Facebook pages, urging others to recruit “active patriots” and attend rallies, and openly associating with well-known militia-related sub-ideologies such as the anti-government group. Three percent movement. They also advertise combat training and tell their followers to be “prepared” for what awaits them. These groups are trying to facilitate local organizing, state by state and county by county. Their goals are vague, but many of their posts convey a general sense of urgency about the need to prepare for “war” or “rise up” against many perceived enemies, including drag queens, immigrants, pro-Palestinian college students, communists… and the United States government.

These groups are also rebuilding at a time when anti-government rhetoric has continued to rise in mainstream political discourse ahead of a contentious and high-stakes presidential election. And by doing all this on Facebook, they hope to reach a broader group of potential recruits than on a comparatively marginal platform like Telegram.

“Many of these groups are no longer fractured collections of localized militias, but coalitions formed between multiple militia groups, many with the Three Percent at the helm,” said Katie Paul, director of the Technology Transparency Project. “Facebook remains the largest gathering place for extremists and militia movements to cast a wide network and funnel users into more private chats, even on the platform, where they can plan and coordinate with impunity.”

Paul told WIRED that he has been monitoring “hundreds” of militia-related groups and profiles since 2021 and has observed that they have become “increasingly emboldened with more serious and coordinated organizing” over the past year.

One particularly influential account in this Facebook ecosystem belongs to Rodney Huffman, leader of the Confederate States III%, an Arkansas-based militia that, in 2020, sought to rally extremists at Georgia’s Stone Mountain, a popular site for Confederate and white supremacist groups. Huffman has created a network of Facebook groups and spreads the word about local meetups. His partner, Dabbi Demere, is equally active and has the mission of recruiting “active” patriots for the groups. Huffman and Demere are also key players in the pro-Confederate movement known as “Heritage, Not Hate.”

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