Alarmingly, hundreds of active and retired police officers and law enforcement personnel were found to be in private extremist Facebook groups.
Many of these groups hold racist, Islamophobic and even violent anti-government views, according to an investigation by Reveal, a nonprofit news organization run by the US Center for Investigative Reporting.
Reveal notes that the groups contain a broad array of right-wing political ideologies, anywhere from conservatism to far-right ideas centered on racism and Islamophobia. Some Facebook groups were even associated with militia and anti-government movements such as Oath Keepers.
Reveal reported that 150 of the roughly 400 officers identified with the more extreme groups.
Disturbingly, the Reveal report found a common thread — that police officers were actively recruiting other police officers to join the groups. Members included those from small rural departments to the largest precincts in America, including New York City and Los Angeles.
Reveal’s report spells more trouble for Facebook, which is already in very hot water for its less-than-stellar moderation efforts. Facebook has been struggling for quite a while now to deal with its impact on society, nowhere near able to stem the flow of misinformation, hate groups and extremism within the platform.
At the F8 developer conference this year, Facebook noted they would be shifting away from news reporting and toward private groups. This shift is seen by many as a way of absolving the company of moderation responsibility. The thinking goes that the actions within a private group will be self-moderated and kept private from misinforming others or spreading hate speech.
However, Facebook has not said they will take a more active approach to moderating private groups.
For now, the idea of racist, Islamophobic and potentially violent police officers going to work every day and having access to guns is a terrifying truth that exists.