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Senate Democrats call on Facebook to crack down on white supremacists

Senate Democrats call on Facebook to crack down on white supremacists
© Greg Nash

Three Democratic senators on Tuesday urged Facebook to more aggressively purge white supremacist groups from its platform.

In a letter to Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Broadband companies funded fake net neutrality comments, investigation finds | Twitter rolls out tip feature | Google to adopt 'hybrid work week' Oversight Board achieving what government cannot Warren: Trump is 'a danger to democracy' MORE, Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerFacebook board decision on Trump ban pleases no one Schumer works to balance a divided caucus's demands Senate Intel vows to 'get to the bottom' of 'Havana syndrome' attacks MORE (D-Va.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap Senate tries to shake off graveyard status Lawmakers brace for bitter fight over Biden tax plan MORE (D-Hawaii) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezJuan Williams: A breakthrough on immigration? Biden rebuffs Democrats, keeps refugee admissions at 15,000 Bottom line MORE (D-N.J.) said the CEO has failed to enforce existing community standards that would remove racist and violent extremist content from Facebook.

“The United States is going through a long-overdue examination of the systemic racism prevalent in our society. Americans of all races, ages, and backgrounds have bravely taken to the streets to demand equal justice for all,” they wrote.

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“While Facebook has attempted to publicly align itself with this movement, its failure to address the hate spreading on its platform reveals significant gaps between Facebook’s professed commitment to racial justice and the company’s actions and business interests,” they continued.

The letter points to reporting, specifically from the Tech Transparency project, showing how right-wing organizations have used Facebook to recruit and organize, especially using groups.

The lawmakers cited the case of Air Force Staff Sergeant Steven Carrillo, who was indicted Monday for murder by a federal grand jury after allegedly killing a security guard in Oakland, Calif., during anti-police brutality protests. Federal investigators have linked Carrillo to the right-wing extremist "Boogaloo" movement, a loose group referencing an impending civil war.

According to the complaint filed against him, Carrillo was active in Boogaloo groups on Facebook, which has been a hotbed for recruiting and organizing for the movement.

The platform has committed to taking down groups and pages using Boogaloo-related language, but multiple reports have found gaps in the enforcement of that policy.

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"The prevalence of white supremacist and other extremist content on Facebook — and the ways in which these groups have been able to use the platform as organizing infrastructure — is unacceptable," the lawmakers wrote.

A spokesperson for Facebook directed The Hill to an appearance by Nick Clegg, the platform's vice president for global affairs, on Bloomberg TV Monday where he said "we do not profit from hate, and we have no incentive to have hate on our platform."

They also pointed to a public report saying the company removed 89 percent of hate speech before it was reported in the first quarter.