Killed officer’s sister sues Facebook for radicalizing attackers

The sister of a security officer killed in Oakland in 2020 is suing Facebook, alleged that the tech company played a part in radicalizing two men accused of his murder.

David Patrick Underwood was fatally shot and his partner was injured while guarding a federal building on 29 May 2020, when a large demonstration over the police killing of George Floyd was underway nearby.

Federal prosecutors said two men awaiting trial in the drive-by shooting met through a Facebook group page dedicated to the extremist anti-government “Boogaloo” movement and used the protests as cover for the crime.

wrongful death case against metaThe lawsuit, the parent company of Facebook, was filed Thursday in Alameda County Superior Court. It wants at least $25,000 in damages.

“The responsibility of killing my brother is on Facebook. As alleged in the lawsuit, Facebook deliberately promoted inflammatory and violent content and linked extremists who plotted and carried out the murder of my brother,” Angela Underwood Jacobs said in a statement.

The lawsuit alleges that Facebook used algorithms to help extremist groups keep users active on the platform, which in turn boosts ad sales and revenue.

Ted Leopold, the sister’s attorney, said: “We believe and intend to demonstrate that Facebook’s conduct has led to an increase in extremism around the world and acts of real-world violence, including the killing of Officer Underwood.” “It is time that Facebook is finally held accountable for its actions.”

Federal prosecutors have said Steven Carrillo, an Air Force sergeant, met his partner, Robert Alvin Justus Jr., through a Facebook Boogaloo group, where they agreed to take advantage of racial justice protests to attack law enforcement officers. Happened. Messages obtained by investigators showed the men agreed to meet in person and drive to the Oakland protest, where prosecutors said Carrillo fired a homemade assault rifle at Underwood and his accomplice before fleeing.

Guardian Reported in 2021 An attack similar to the one that killed Underwood was feared after researchers monitoring online extremism identified boogaloo groups with thousands of members on Facebook. These groups were used to share advice on recruiting new members, arming and posting Memories about the murders of police and federal officers. Facebook said at the time that it took action against hundreds of individual posts that violated its policies against inciting violence, but did not ban the boogaloo movement from its platform.

Carrillo was arrested eight days later, after he shot dead a Santa Cruz sheriff’s sergeant and wounded four other officers who tracked his vehicle. Carrillo has pleaded not guilty to both murders. Court documents show that Carrillo also had ties to a right-wing militia known as the Grizzly Scouts, which took firearms training, held protests, and terms of “war” against the police.

Following the assassination of Underwood, Facebook pledged to remove groups, accounts and pages affiliated with the far-right group from its services. But the lawsuit alleges that groups tied to the Boogaloo movement remain on stage.

“We have banned more than 1,000 militarized social movements from our platform and work closely with experts to address the widespread issue of Internet radicalization. These claims are without legal basis,” said Meta spokesman Kevin McAllister.