Tag: groups

08
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Domestic terrorism suspects who plotted to kidnap Whitmer shared plans in Facebook groups

According to details from a shocking new affidavit, the FBI uncovered a group planning “violent action against multiple state governments,” including a detailed plot to capture or kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The domestic terror group organized across Facebook groups, real-life events and at least two encrypted chat apps that the FBI did not name.

Whitmer, a Democrat, became a major target of pervasive anti-lockdown sentiment on the political right earlier this year when states imposed restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus. According to the affidavit, at a June in-person meeting, members of the group “talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor.”

Facebook says it played a “proactive” role in the FBI investigation, first reaching out to law enforcement six months ago. The FBI said it became aware of the activity through social media and also relied on an informant to collect information from within the group.

“We remove content, disable accounts and immediately report to law enforcement when there is a credible threat of imminent harm to people or public safety,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We proactively reached out and cooperated with the FBI early in this ongoing investigation.”

The group sought to grow its numbers, contacting a Michigan-based militia group known as the Wolverine Watchmen that shared overlapping interests. Facebook removed the Wolverine Watchmen group from its platform in June when it purged a number of groups connected to the anti-government boogaloo movement.

“Today we are designating a violent US-based anti-government network as a dangerous organization and banning it from our platform,” Facebook wrote at the time, drawing a distinction between violent boogaloo groups and the “loosely-affiliated” boogaloo movement.

TechCrunch asked Facebook if the individuals connected with the Michigan militia through Facebook groups but the company did not provide an answer to that

07
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Facebook says it will ban groups that openly support QAnon

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) —

Facebook said it will ban groups that openly support QAnon, the baseless conspiracy theory that paints President Donald Trump as a secret warrior against a supposed child-trafficking ring run by celebrities and “deep state” government officials.

The company said Tuesday that it will remove Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts for “representing QAnon” — even if they don’t promote violence. The social network said it will consider a variety of factors to decide if a group meets its criteria for a ban, including its name, the biography or “about” section of the page, and discussions within the page, group or Instagram account.

Mentions of QAnon in a group focused on a different subject won’t necessarily lead to a ban, Facebook said. Administrators of banned groups will have their personal accounts disabled as well.

Less than two months ago, Facebook said it would stop promoting the group and its adherents, although it faltered with spotty enforcement. It said it would only remove QAnon groups if they promote violence. That is no longer the case.

The company said it started to enforce the policy Tuesday but cautioned that it “will take time and will continue in the coming days and weeks.”

Critics called it a much-needed, though belated, move by Facebook.

“Now that they have announced that they will treat the QAnon ideology like the very real threat that it is, we hope that they will follow up with some modicum of evidence showing how the ban is being enforced and whether it is fully effective,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and one of the founders of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which organized a Facebook boycott by advertisers.

But the conspiracy theory has already seeped into mainstream politics. Several Republican running for

07
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Facebook says it will ban QAnon groups

By Barbara Ortutay | Associated Press

OAKLAND — Facebook said it will ban groups that openly support QAnon, the baseless conspiracy theory that paints President Donald Trump as a secret warrior against a supposed child-trafficking ring run by celebrities and “deep state” government officials.

The company said Tuesday that it will remove Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts for “representing QAnon” — even if they don’t promote violence. The social network said it will consider a variety of factors to decide if a group meets its criteria for a ban, including its name, the biography or “about” section of the page, and discussions within the page, group or Instagram account.

Mentions of QAnon in a group focused on a different subject won’t necessarily lead to a ban, Facebook said. Administrators of banned groups will have their personal accounts disabled as well.

Less than two months ago, Facebook said it would stop promoting the group and its adherents, although it faltered with spotty enforcement. It said it would only remove QAnon groups if they promote violence. That is no longer the case.

The company said it started to enforce the policy Tuesday but cautioned that it “will take time and will continue in the coming days and weeks.”

The QAnon phenomenon has sprawled across a patchwork of secret Facebook groups, Twitter accounts and YouTube videos in recent years. QAnon has been linked to real-world violence such as criminal reports of kidnapping and dangerous claims that the coronavirus is a hoax.

But the conspiracy theory has also seeped into mainstream politics. Several Republican running for Congress this year are QAnon-friendly.

By the time Facebook and other social media companies began enforcing — however limited — policies against QAnon, critics said it was largely too late. Reddit, which began banning QAnon groups in

06
Oct
2020
Posted in website

Voting rights groups urge Florida to extend voter registration deadline after website issues

A number of voting rights groups are calling for Florida’s voter registration cutoff to be extended after the state’s registration portal experienced outages in the hours before the deadline.



graphical user interface: Some users encountered error messages when trying to access Florida's voter registration website, RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov, in the hours before the 2020 general election deadline.


© [Allison Ross | Times]/Tampa Bay Times/TNS
Some users encountered error messages when trying to access Florida’s voter registration website, RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov, in the hours before the 2020 general election deadline.

Some Floridians attempting to access RegistertovoteFlorida.gov found slow responses or error messages on Monday evening, with some reports on social media of people attempting for hours to register to vote.

Florida’s deadline to register in order to be eligible to vote in the 2020 general election was midnight Monday. Paper applications that were mailed in had to be postmarked by Monday.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the ACLU of Florida and the Campaign Legal Center sent a letter on Monday night to Brad McVay, the Florida Department of State’s general counsel, pushing for the deadline to be extended until midnight Tuesday.

“We are contemplating further action,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee, when asked for an update Tuesday morning. “We are prepared to use every tool in our arsenal to stand up for voters impacted.”

A spokesman for the Department of State, which manages the website, has not yet responded to two voicemails and an email sent Monday evening and Tuesday morning asking for more information about what happened with the website and whether the deadline would be extended.

Brad Ashwell, Florida state director of voting rights group All Voting is Local, said his organization was hearing reports well into Monday night that there were problems with the voter registration website. Ashwell said different groups are debating how long to ask for the deadline to be extended. He noted that there would

05
Oct
2020
Posted in internet

How Hulu’s ‘Monsterland’ Expertly Tells the Horror of Internet Conspiracy Groups

Photo credit: Hulu
Photo credit: Hulu

From Men’s Health

Spoiler warning: the following story discusses the entire episode, including the ending, of “Eugene, Oregon” from Hulu’s Monsterland.

  • The second episode of Hulu’s horror anthology series, Monsterland, explores the dangers of internet conspiracy groups and radicalization.

  • Titled “Eugene, Oregon,” the episode follows a teenage boy, Nick, who cares for his ill mother and shoulders much of his family’s hardships, financial and otherwise.

  • Here’s how we can interpret the episode and its ending.

Just in time for Halloween, Hulu’s new horror anthology series Monsterland is here to bring all the creepy, scary goodness you can fit into a 50-minute package. Done in the style of Netflix’s sci-fi megahit Black Mirror, each episode of Monsterland takes place in a different city, focused on different types of monsters, both human and not human. Embedded within each episode’s horror story also comes a layer of social commentary, explaining what can drive humans to do real-world monstrous things that we see and hear about with sometimes alarming frequency.

The second episode in the series, titled “Eugene, Oregon,” is ostensibly about shadow monsters. The protagonist of the episode is a boy named Nick (played by Ozark star Charlie Tahan), who lives an extremely troubled life—he’s about a year removed from his mother suffering a crippling stroke, rendering her unable to work. He’s dropped out of school to work a fast food job for any attempt to make ends meat, and his health insurance no longer covers the medication that his ailing mother desperately needs.

Photo credit: Hulu
Photo credit: Hulu

So when he sees a living shadow in his room, he doesn’t know what to make of it. We know he’s tied to a virtual life—he gets his joy from gaming online and video-chatting with others. The shadow does nothing more than