Facebook announced on Friday that it had removed from its social media platforms several accounts with links to far-right groups that planned to infiltrate protests against police violence that have been going on for several days in the United States.
Titled “Proud Boys” and “American Guard”, the now deleted online groups, which were associated with white supremacist movements, were made up of dozens of accounts on the social networks Facebook and Instagram.
"We were already working on these groups and on the associated pages, with the idea of removing them within a week or two," explained Brian Fishman, director of the unit to combat dangerous organizations on Facebook.
"But when we saw that they were publishing content related to the protests and that they were organizing to participate in person, in some cases with weapons, we had to speed up our investigation and the removal of the accounts," said the representative, at a conference of press.
Brian Fishman did not provide details on the number of users who followed these groups online, nor did he even indicate the number of views of the content now removed.
This Facebook unit decides to remove accounts due to the published content, which in this particular case was promoting a “hate speech”.
The online group “American Guard” had 80 accounts on Facebook and another 50 on Instagram, while the group “Proud Boys” had 30 accounts on each social network.
Demonstrations against police violence and racism have been organized in several dozen cities in the United States since George Floyd's death on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The 46-year-old African-American died after a white policeman kneeled him in the neck for more than eight minutes in a detention operation, although Floyd said he was unable to breathe.
In Las Vegas, Nevada, three far-right militants were indicted on Wednesday for inciting violence during peaceful marches.
According to the services of Nevada federal prosecutor Nicholas Trutanich, the three men belonged to the “Boogaloo” movement, a term connoted to 'accelerationism', a trend associated with the extreme right that advocates an “acceleration” of capitalism and chaos for “ to overthrow ”the existing order and to“ build ”a“ new society ”, based on white supremacy.
Nicholas Trutanich indicated that the three men were in possession of ‘molotov cocktails’.
"Violent elements have hijacked peaceful protests across the country, including in Nevada, exploiting the real and legitimate anger sparked by Floyd's death at the service of his extremist agendas," the federal prosecutor said in a statement.
Facebook also removed a group called “Identity Europe”, which, according to the social network Twitter, presented itself “in a false way” as being anti-fascist.
Facebook said it had detected no signs of possible foreign interference in these groups and in the protests.
United States Attorney General (equivalent to Justice Minister) Bill Barr said on Thursday that "foreign agents" were trying to "exacerbate the violence" in the protests that have taken place in the United States in recent days.
Since the release of images of George Floyd's arrest on social media, protests against police violence and racism have been taking place in dozens of American cities (and also in European cities), some of which have been the scene of clashes with the police and acts of destruction and plunder.
In several dozen US cities, including Washington and New York, a curfew was ordered because of the incidents, with thousands of arrests, several fatalities and several police officers being targeted.
On Monday, in a statement made by the White House, Donald Trump claimed to be the "President of law and order", threatening to mobilize military forces to end street violence.
The four policemen involved in the African American's arrest were fired and charged, and Agent Derek Chauvin, who put his knee on Floyd's neck, was charged with second-degree murder, risking a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
The rest will respond for assistance and complicity in second-degree murder and involuntary homicide.
Floyd's death occurred during his detention on suspicion of using a counterfeit $ 20 (18 euro) bill in a store.