The sister of a federal security officer killed during a George Floyd protest by an alleged right-wing extremist sued Facebook on Thursday, accusing the company of pushing extremist content, NPR reports.
Prosecutors say Steven Carrillo, who is tied to the anti-government “boogaloo movement,” shot and killed Dave Underwood at an Oakland courthouse during a racial justice protest in May of 2020.
Prosecutors say Carrillo, a former Air Force sergeant, organized with other boogaloo supporters on Facebook.
On the day of the killing, Carrillo wrote that he planned to go to the protest to "show them the real targets.”
“Use their anger to fuel our fire," he allegedly wrote. "We have mobs of angry people to use to our advantage.”
Prosecutors say that Carrillo wrote that the protest was an “opportunity” to target law enforcement.
Angela Underwood Jacobs in a suit filed in a California state court against Meta, Facebook’s parent company, accused Facebook of promoting boogaloo-related pages until Underwood’s death even though they were aware that the platform was being used as a recruiting tool.
The suit alleges that Facebook was negligent in designing a product to “promote and engage its users in extremist content.”
"Facebook Inc. knew or could have reasonably foreseen that one or more individuals would be likely to become radicalized upon joining boogaloo-related groups on Facebook," the suit states.
Suit faces hurdles:
Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University Law School, told NPR that the company was likely to invoke its immunity under Section 230.
"There have been a number of lawsuits trying to establish that Facebook is liable for how violent groups and terrorists used their services," Goldman said. "And courts have consistently rejected those claims because services like Facebook aren't responsible for harms caused by people using the service."
Jacobs’ lawyers said the lawsuit relies heavily on the Facebook Files, a trove of documents exposed by the Wall Street Journal showing that the company’s algorithm promotes extremism and divisive content.
The lawyers told NPR that the files revealed "Facebook's active role in shaping the content on its website as well as creating and building groups on the platform – activities that fall outside of the conduct protected by Section 230."