Facebook vowed to crack down on political violence and election interference, but the result is far less than advertised. The platform allows Antifa organizations to organize and share content in apparent conflict with Facebook’s official policies.
Facebook had removed two left-wing extremist news sources — It’s Going Down and CrimethInc. That was part of the platform’s new “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” policy to crack down on groups the platform said are “tied to violence.” However, Facebook has refused to take action against two other controversial leftist pages — Rose City Antifa and Adbusters.
Rose City Antifa’s alleged reputation for political violence has been reported on by Politico, The Washington Times, and The Washington Post. The Post featured a photo captioned: “Unidentified Rose City Antifa members beat up Andy Ngo, an independent journalist.”
Canadian leftist organization Adbusters, which helped start the Occupy protests, is attempting to meddle in the U.S. election by organizing a “siege” of the White House.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained his concerns about upcoming civil unrest in an early September interview with Axios where he expressed: “I think we need to be doing everything that we can to reduce the chances of violence or civil unrest in the wake of this election.” Despite being contacted and presented with an extensive report on alleged violence from Rose City Antifa, Facebook has thus far refused to take action.
Zuckerberg then went on to profess: “We’re trying to make sure that we do our part to make sure that none of this is organized on Facebook.”
Antifa violence has made headlines for months because of ongoing political unrest and rioting in places like Portland and Seattle. “A statement from the [U.S.] Marshals Service confirmed that [Michael] Reinoehl was wanted as a prime suspect in the killing of 39-year-old Aaron ‘Jay’ Danielson, who was shot in the chest Saturday night,” CBS News reported. Reinoehl had described himself in a social media post as “100% ANTIFA,” and then reportedly engaged in an altercation with police to the point where he himself was killed.
Antifa organizations are known for violence. News reports about Rose City Antifa help make it one of the most public examples because of its social media presence. There is no indication Reinoehl had any connection to Rose City Antifa, however.
Federalist co-founder Sean Davis suggested that Facebook’s response to Antifa has been bewildering in that: “A man wearing a Patriot Prayer hat was murdered in Portland by a criminal who said he was ‘100% Antifa’ and instead of banning Antifa pages, Facebook banned Patriot Prayer.” New York Times reporter Davey Alba quoted a Facebook spokesperson who reportedly explained, “[Patriot Prayer was] removed as part of our ongoing efforts to remove Violent Social Militias from our platform.”
MRC TechWatch sent an extensive report to Facebook about the activities of Rose City Antifa, whose alleged political violence has been discussed by Politico,The Washington Times, and The Post. This record of alleged violence was then juxtaposed with Facebook’s own Community Standards.
Facebook didn’t respond. However, Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson said that the ban of his group “is the result of a media company reaching out to Facebook and claiming that they are violating the platform’s ‘dangerous groups’ policy,” the Gateway Pundit summarized.
Rose City Antifa posted praise after journalist Andy Ngo claimed he was beaten on June 29, 2019, Ngo claiming to have suffered a brain injury from the event. “[M]ilkshakes” were reportedly loaded with quick-drying cement and used at some of the Portland demonstrations. Rose City Antifa posted a comment about milkshakes as well: “When the Alt Right hands us lemons, we make delicious milkshakes! The J29 demo was an amazing success which is really very upsetting for the dwindling crew of fascists who come to our city in hopes of bullying vulnerable people.” The post went on in an attempt to gaslight that Ngo was somehow weaponizing “victimhood” and exaggerating the extent of violence.
Some news organizations have called out Rose City Antifa’s alleged violence. The Post featured a Getty Images photo with a caption that stated, “Unidentified Rose City Antifa members beat up Andy Ngo, an independent journalist, on June 29 in Portland, Ore.” Politico reported the following Rose City Antifa statement: “‘We are unapologetic about the reality that fighting fascism at points requires physical militancy.’” Politico commented that “The group does not specify what physical militancy means, but their page makes clear that the definition includes ‘any means necessary.’”
The Washington Times reported that “Project Veritas, known for its hidden-camera investigations, released in June undercover footage of a Rose City Antifa training session in Portland that included tips on weapons and tactics, including eye-gouging.”
Rose City Antifa’s pinned post on its Facebook page cautioned its followers not to plan to engage in specifically criminal behavior while on its page. It did not discourage such actions, merely the appearance on its page:
“DO NOT discuss criminal activity or make any action plans on our Facebook wall. You should never make plans with a stranger on Facebook to do this work. Even trying to sort out ride shares, or similar is very unsafe on here. Undoubtedly enemies will fish around with posts of that nature so be wary.”
Rose City Antifa has openly discussed the use of doxxing against political enemies on its Facebook page, i.e. exposing their personal information so they can be targeted. In one post the group declared in “a note on doxxing” that it has “very rigorous standards about the information we publish,” stating that: “We encourage others to think carefully about the damage that could be caused by inaccurate doxxes and be diligent about what they are putting out there.” Salon reported that “Rose City Antifa has unveiled a series of articles doxing each local member of the Proud Boys and calling for supporters to put pressure on their employers to fire them.” While we do not defend the actions of the Proud Boys, this is clear proof that Rose City Antifa has weaponized the exposure of personal information of its apparent enemies.
Facebook’s Community Standards specifically state in its “Violence and Incitement” “Do not post” section that users should not post “Any content containing statements of intent, calls for action, or advocating for high or mid-severity violence due to voting, voter registration, or the outcome of an election.” [Emphasis added.] It should be noted that Antifa activists specifically ran rampant in response to the 2016 election on the day of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. Mr. Zuckerberg’s concern about the 2020 election’s aftermath indeed is relevant here.
Adbusters has made a powerful political impact in far-left activism and American politics. NPR summarized that in 2011 it had “proposed a Sept. 17 ‘occupation’ of Wall Street, and the idea caught fire.” That evolved into Occupy Wall Street, a precursor to the current unrest. Nine years of Big Tech and social media advancement later, it would have more power to organize civil unrest than before, and Facebook leadership appears to have no problem with that.
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