Experts say the public deserves to see the list, a clear embodiment of US foreign policy priorities that could disproportionately censor marginalized groups.
“The lists seem to create two disparate systems, with the heaviest penalties applied to heavily Muslim regions and communities,” Patel wrote in an email to The Intercept. The differences in demographic composition between Tiers 1 and 3 “suggests that Facebook — like the U.S. government — considers Muslims to be the most dangerous.” By contrast, Patel pointed out, “Hate groups designated as Anti-Muslim hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center are overwhelmingly absent from Facebook’s lists.”
Anti-government militias, among those receiving more measured interventions from Facebook, “present the most lethal [domestic violent extremist] threat” to the U.S., intelligence officials concluded earlier this year, a view shared by many nongovernmental researchers. A crucial difference between alleged foreign terror groups and say, the Oath Keepers, is that domestic militia groups have considerable political capital and support on the American right. The Militarized Social Movement entries “do seem to be created in response to more powerful organizations and ethnic groups breaking the rules pretty regularly,” said Ángel Díaz, of UCLA School of Law, “and [Facebook] feeling that there needs to be a response, but they didn’t want the response to be as broad as it was for the terrorism portion, so they created a subcategory to limit the impact on discourse from politically powerful groups.” For example, the extreme-right movement known as “boogaloo,” which advocates for a second Civil War, is considered a Militarized Social Movement, which would make it subject to the relatively lenient Tier 3 rules. Facebook has only classified as Tier 1 a subset of boogaloo, which it made clear was “distinct from the broader and loosely-affiliated boogaloo movement.”
A Facebook spokesperson categorically denied that Facebook gives extremist right-wing groups in the U.S. special treatment due to their association with mainstream conservative politics. They added that the company tiers groups based on their behavior, stating, “Where American groups satisfy our definition of a terrorist group, they are designated as terrorist organizations (E.g. The Base, Atomwaffen Division, National Socialist Order). Where they satisfy our definition of hate groups, they are designated as hate organizations (For example, Proud Boys, Rise Above Movement, Patriot Front).”
The author tweeted »
The heavily restricted “Terrorism” category, which makes up over 50% of the entire list, is almost all of Muslim, South Asian, and Middle Eastern ppl and orgs. Armed right-wing militias in the US are placed in a far more permissive 3rd tier, subject to the lightest restrictions.
— Sam Biddle (@samfbiddle) October 12, 2021