Facebook has revealed it helped law enforcement identify MAGA mob rioters by ‘monitoring the assault in real-time’ and identifying people who posted photos and videos at the Capitol.
The social media giant has been assisting authorities ‘even after the attack was over’ in bringing to justice those responsible for the violent January 6 insurrection that left five including a Capitol police officer dead, Monika Bickert, the company’s head of global policy management said Thursday.
News of its involvement comes after Facebook sought to distance itself from the riot in the days following the attack with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg claiming the violence was ‘largely’ not organized on the platform.
However, despite these claims, leaked internal documents earlier this month revealed execs were made aware Facebook had a major problem with groups spouting hate speech on its platform five months before the attack and tightened restrictions leading up to the election – only to soften them again between the election and January 6.
The extent of information Facebook has so far handed over to authorities in the five weeks following the riot is not yet clear but the company insisted it is in line with ‘valid legal requests’.
Last week, Bank of America customers vowed to boycott the bank after learning it snooped through hundreds of innocent people’s accounts at the request of the government to identify perpetrators of the attack, with details of anyone who made a transaction in DC that day being handed over to authorities.
Facebook has revealed it helped law enforcement identify MAGA mob rioters by ‘monitoring the assault in real-time’ and identifying people who posted photos and videos at the Capitol
Bickert told reporters Thursday Facebook is ‘helping’ authorities by actively searching for photos and videos posted from the Capitol and identifying people who posted photos of themselves participating in the riot on its platform.
‘We’ve always had a strong relationship with law enforcement, we were monitoring the assault in real-time and made appropriate referrals to law enforcement to assist their efforts to bring those responsible to account,’ she said in a press call about the release of Facebook’s Community Standards Enforcement Report Fourth Quarter 2020 report.
‘This includes helping them identify people who posted photos of themselves from the scene, even after the attack was over.
‘We’re continuing to share more information with law enforcement in response to valid legal requests as they continue their investigation.’
Bickert said the platform was working with the government even before the January 6 attack.
The relationship was ‘both in the run-up to the violence but also throughout the violence and afterwards’, she said.
Bickert added that Facebook is still handing over information when asked for it now.
The social media giant has been assisting authorities ‘even after the attack was over’ in bringing to justice those responsible for the violent January 6 insurrection that left five including a Capitol police officer dead, Monika Bickert, the company’s head of global policy management said Thursday
News of its involvement comes after Facebook sought to distance itself from the riot in the days following the attack with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg claiming the violence was ‘largely’ not organized on the platform
‘We were actively looking for content being posted by people involved in the violence and we were making appropriate referrals to law enforcement, starting whenever we became aware of that and certainly continuing through the violence and afterwards,’ she said.
‘And we will of course respond to valid law enforcement requests.
‘So there’s a lot that we did specifically with regard to the Capitol attacks to make sure that we were doing our part.’
Prior to the riot, the company had also removed groups and accounts linked to some of the extremist groups involved in the violence, Bickert said.
As of January 12, Facebook said it had identified over 890 militarized social movements, removed 3,400 pages, 19,500 groups, 120 events, 25,300 Facebook profiles and 7500 Instagram accounts.
Bickert did not go into further detail about how it identified rioters from their photos following the attack.
However the company told Bloomberg it did not involve use of its facial recognition software but passed along data to law enforcement in response to requests.
Leaked internal documents earlier this month revealed execs were made aware Facebook had a major problem with groups spouting hate speech on its platform five months before the attack. Pictured Mark Zuckerberg
It is not clear if other tools such as location data or artificial intelligence were used.
Facebook did not respond to DailyMail.com’s request for information on the specific action taken.
It is also not clear how much data it has turned over to authorities and whether the collaboration may have impacted innocent people in the DC area that day or only people clearly pictured inside the Capitol building itself.
Key questions around privacy are being asked in the wake of the riot as it has emerged a number of companies assisted authorities in unmasking those behind the attack.
Bank of America came under fire after it emerged it emerged it had handed over the information of 211 people to the government who were in the DC area at the time of the riot.
Federal authorities asked the bank for information including: customers confirmed as transacting, either through bank account debit card or credit card purchases, in DC between January 5 and January 6 and purchases made for hotel and Airbnb RSVPs in DC, VA, and MD after January 6.
Bank of America handed over the information of 211 people to authorities after the riot
They also asked for purchases of weapons or at a weapons-related merchant between January 7 and their upcoming suspected stay in DC area around Inauguration Day and airline-related purchases since January 6.
None of the people whose data was turned over was interviewed by law enforcement and no one was arrested.
Meanwhile, pointed questions have been asked about the extent rioters used the platform to organize the Capitol riot.
Leaked memos obtained by the Wall Street Journal last week show data scientists warned executives back in August 2020 – five months before the Capitol riot – that a staggering 70 percent of the top 100 ‘most active US Civic Groups’ on the platform involved ‘hate, misinfo, bullying and harassment.’
The company put in place tighter restrictions in the run-up to the November presidential election, including stopping making recommendations of civic groups to social media users.
But these restrictions were then loosened following the election and prior to the January 6 riot.