Facebook Content Purge May Hamper Police

Facebook Content Purge May Hamper Police demonstrators storm the capitol building by climbing the walls (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

By Brian Trusdell | Thursday, 14 January 2021 07:55 PM

Facebook's determination to purge "Stop the Steal" content from its website purportedly to limit "further violence" might be making it more difficult for law enforcement to surveil potential trouble spots, the head of New York City's head of intelligence and counterterrorism suggested Thursday.

"The good news is we've got large groups of adherents to violent extremism flocking to one place," Deputy Police Commissioner John J. Miller said at a press briefing, Fox News reported.

"A lot of that energy is diverted when you shut down that platform. On the other hand, it pushes them to other locations, so, you know, we're going to have to follow those threats wherever they go, which is a challenge in and of itself."

Facebook said Monday it was removing content containing "Stop the Steal" from both Facebook and Instagram under its "Coordinating Harm" policy. It did not say if it took similar actions during the riots that plagued many cities over the summer, particularly Portland and Seattle.

Reports have said the FBI has warned police protests are being planned in all 50 state capitals in addition to Washington on inauguration day. Miller said it has other means to gather intelligence other than Facebook and other social media.

"We've been in this game for a while now, and we're very focused on it, and we didn't just focus on it on Jan. 7 – we've been focused on it for some time," Miller said. "I think we know where to go and where to look, and there's more to this than just electronic platforms. I mean, we employ all our tools, and that includes human sources."