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WASHINGTON, D.C. February 2, 2021 – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog group that runs the Tech Transparency Project (TTP), released a report showing how Facebook is allowing a far-right, pro-Trump “Patriot Party” movement to take root on its platform, combining elements of militia activity and election conspiracy theories. While the effort so far appears to be largely decentralized, it is spreading rapidly on Facebook. Some of these groups helped organize “Stop the Steal” rallies in Washington, D.C., including the Jan. 6 event that led to the deadly Capitol riot, and are continuing to use the platform to organize.
Read the full report.
CfA Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said, “The fact that the Patriot Party groups are so far decentralized should not engender a sense of comfort; this is how these movements build on Facebook. TTP’s previous reports exposing networks of boogaloo and white supremacist groups on Facebook show that these groups are very good at using common words, phrases and images within Facebook’s discovery tools to find each other and easily organize.”
TTP identified 51 Facebook Groups and 85 Facebook Pages that include “Patriot Party” in their name or use iconography that’s come to be associated with the movement. Roughly two-thirds of the groups and more than half of the pages were created after the 2020 election. Some of these groups have been able to gain thousands of members in a matter of days. One group called “Patriot Party,” created on Jan. 17, gained 105,000 members in eight days, before it was removed by Facebook.
Despite piecemeal action by Facebook, many of these groups remain active and continue to gain support on the platform. TTP also found that Facebook’s algorithms are even recommending Patriot Party Pages to users who show an interest in such content, likely contributing to the growth of the movement. Trump has reportedly discussed the idea of forming a “Patriot Party,” and if he ever does, he’ll find a militarized Patriot Party movement, fueled by conspiracy theories, already taking shape on Facebook.
Ms. Kuppersmith continued, “It’s possible that Donald Trump’s current absence from social media has lulled Facebook into a false sense of security over its ability to control the spread of radical ideas on the platform, but make no mistake: The platform is failing again. It’s crucial that Facebook step up its internal enforcement actions immediately and that lawmakers take a stand to finally regulate Facebook, which has repeatedly shown it can’t regulate itself.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.