Facebook accused of radicalizing a far-right extremist in new lawsuit

Facebook is facing an unprecedented lawsuit amid allegations that the social network “played a role in radicalizing a far-right supporter of the extremist Boogaloo movement” who is accused of murdering a federal security officer.

According to HuffPost, the lawsuit has been filed by the sister of Dave Patrick Underwood, the federal officer who died as a result of a fatal drive-by shooting. Back in 2020, Underwood was shot outside of an Oakland, Calif., federal courthouse while protecting it amid George Floyd civil rights protests.

U.S. federal prosecutors have charged a man identified as Steven Carrillo with Underwood’s murder. However, Angela Underwood Jacobs, sister of the deceased officer, believes he is not the only one to blame for her brother’s death. In the suit, filed California Superior Court, Jacobs included a statement accusing Facebook of being responsible for his death.

“Facebook bears responsibility for the murder of my brother. As the lawsuit alleges, Facebook knowingly promoted inflammatory and violent content, and connected extremists who plotted and carried out the killing of my brother,” Angela Underwood Jacobs said in a statement.

She added, “Facebook must be held responsible for the harm it has caused, not just to my family but so many others, by promoting extremist content and building extremist groups on its platform.”

Underwood’s attorney Ted Leopold has also echoed similar sentiments. Speaking to ABC News, Leopold also accused the social media network of being “an ‘active participant’ in the extremism peddled on its social media site.”

“They are recruiting people to come onto their sites, and once they are on their sites they use a lot of different algorithms that will bring like-minded individuals together,” Leopold told ABC News.

“We believe and intend to show that Facebook’s conduct has led to a rise in extremism throughout the world and acts of real-world violence, including the murder of Officer Underwood,” Leopold said.

The lawsuit states: “The shooting was not a random act of violence. It was the culmination of an extremist plot hatched and planned on Facebook by two men who Meta connected through Facebook’s groups infrastructure and its use of algorithms designed and intended to increase user engagement and, correspondingly, Meta’s profits.”

In response to the lawsuit, Facebook is denying that it bears any responsibility for Underwood’s death. A representative for the social media platform has released a statement to ABC 7 News. “We’ve banned more than 1,000 militarized social movements from our platform and work closely with experts to address the broader issue of internet radicalization,” a spokesperson told ABC. “These claims are without legal basis.”

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