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A militia member watches the U.S./Mexico border.

A militia member watches the U.S./Mexico border. (Photo: DNN News, Twitter)

Civil Rights Group Demands Facebook Take Down Content Showing Far-Right Militants Holding Migrants Hostage

"These videos include content showing possible assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment, among other illegal acts."

Eoin Higgins

Tech giant Facebook must remove videos of right wing militias kidnapping migrants, a civil rights group demanded this week.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sent a letter to the company on Wednesday calling for it to remove content --from-- posted by members of the New Mexico-based extremist group the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP) that is in "flagrant" violations of the platform's terms of service.

UCP members have uploaded material to the social media site that shows the far-right militant group holding migrants at the border hostage.

The videos frequently show groups of defenseless migrants surrounded by heavily armed members of the militia.

"Because these videos include content showing possible assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment, among other illegal acts," the lawyers' committee said in a statement announcing the letter, "UCP is in violation of Facebook’s Community Standards, which prohibits 'content depicting … criminal acts' including 'acts of physical harm committed against people.'"

The videos also show a disturbing crossover with federal officials, as the Daily Beast's Audrey McNamara reported last week.

Border Patrol agents sometimes appear in the periphery of the groups videos, which show camo-clad UCP members interacting with migrants at the southern border.

Facebook, in response to reporting on the videos by Slate's Future Tense blog, said on April 23 that it would not allow the militias to fundraise off of the videos and that it would remove content that violated its standards. 

"People cannot use our fundraising tools for activities involving weapons," said Facebook. "We will remove fundraisers this group may try to start on our service and any content that violates our Community Standards."

As of this writing, at least one video showing the kidnappings remains publicly accessible. 

And, as Mother Jones reported on Wednesday:

While accounts associated with United Constitutional Patriots were removed by PayPal and GoFundMe over the weekend, the group's Facebook page remains active. Posts on the page continue to solicit donations, asking for checks or money orders to be sent in the mail.

"We believe Facebook has a duty to act and remove content posted by UCP that violates the company's community standards," said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "The United Constitutional Patriots have engaged in illegal activities, including rounding up and restraining hundreds of people—including babies and young children—at gunpoint."

"UCP should not be allowed to use Facebook’s platform to gain support for their illegal actions," Clarke added. 

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