It took all of one day for the disaffected bros of the alt-right to beat their Facebook ban, as all they had to do was adopt new and different keywords.
The Trump-era militia cosplay phenomenon known as the Boogaloo movement hit close to home here in the Bay Area in June. The shooting of a federal officer during the George Floyd Oakland protests was originally blamed on Antifa, but it turned out to be two psuedo-Libertarian guys, one of whom is also accused of killing a Santa Cruz sheriff’s officer. And what do you know, the two guys met each other on Facebook in a Boogaloo group.
In response, Facebook banned the term ‘Boogaloo’, but still drew some flak from Democratic lawmakers for their allegedly slow-footed response to the festering hate group issue on their site. And the hate is apparently is still festering strong, as Vice reports that the Boogaloos are back in full force on Facebook, merely by using different words other than ‘boogaloo.’
“Once moderators caught on to those codes, the groups adopted newer slang, such as ‘Alphabet Bois’ (a reference to federal agencies like DHS, ATF, FBI, CIA, which they hate), or just ‘[redacted]’.” Vice reports. “Some of those groups have already amassed thousands of members, and are distributing documents including ‘Al Qaeda kidnapping manual’ and the ‘Army Sniper Manual,’ as well as reports on bombings such as the 2005 attack on London’s transport system, which left 56 dead.”
Vice’s reporting builds on an analysis from watchdog organization Tech Transparency Project, who found that more than 100 Boogaloo groups had popped up on Facebook since the ban. They've attracted thousands of members and promoted their vision for a second Civil War, which they call ‘Boogaloo,’ a glib reference to the innocuous 1984 sequel Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.
The Tech Transparency Project’s analysis “identified 110 Facebook boogaloo groups that were created since June 30, when Facebook announced it was banning a ‘violent’ boogaloo network,” and that “At least 18 of the groups were created on the same day as Facebook’s announcement.” They add that “Many boogaloo groups have easily evaded Facebook’s crackdown by rebranding themselves, often co-opting the names of children’s movies, news organizations and even Mark Zuckerberg.”
Today being the the three-year anniversary of the day Heather Heyer was killed by a a self-admitted white supremacist at the Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right’ rally (and Heyer’s mother has one hell of a tearjerker remembrance essay just posted to Fortune), we’re reminded that the most tragic aspect of this goddamned alt-right menace is the good people who lost their lives because of the antics of lonely and overarmed incels. But another irritating aspect we cannot ignore is the besmirching of cultural assets that had nothing to do with any of this.
NPR’s excellent history of the word ‘boogaloo’ explains that it was “both a dance and musical genre” in the 1960s, “most popularly a mixture of Latin styles, such as mambo, cha cha and pachanga, with doo-wop and soul” — the music of Black and Brown communities. Here in the Bay Area, the anti-government group's co-opting brings a terrible association to resurrected Valencia Street brunch spot Boogaloos restaurant, and Oakland music festival Burger Boogaloo (which had to change its name anyway because of, umm, other issues). It sucks to lose symbols and language to just because white supremacists outfits chose to start using them, and personally, I’m considering whether I’ll have to put my Hawaiian shirts in mothballs because those assholes have all taken to wearing them.
Image: Anthony Crider via Wikimedia Commons