Facebook has been a hotbed for conspiracy theories and dangerous organizing at critical moments, with more than 650,000 posts challenging President Biden’s victory between the 2020 general election and the January 6 riot. Some users scattered after the latter and subsequent prosecutions, but a new report first published by With cable shows a resurgence, identifying around 200 groups and profiles on the platform organizing militia activity across the country.

The research conducted by Technical Transparency Projectfound that these groups have ties to organizations like the Three Centers militia network, which Meta named an “armed militia group” on its 2021 Dangerous Persons and Organizations List. Still, groups like the American Free Army urged users to join to the local militia or to the Three Percenters without consequence (Meta took down the Free American Army group only after With cable asked about it, calling Facebook a “competitive space” that requires regular investment to stay safe).

Katie Paul, director of the Tech Transparency Project, has observed hundreds of these groups and individuals since 2021 and has noticed an increased seriousness and focus on organizing over the previous year. “Many of these groups are no longer fragmented sets of localized militias, but coalitions formed between multiple militia groups, many with the Three Percent at the helm,” Paul told With cable. “Facebook remains the largest gathering place for extremists and militia movements to cast a wide net and direct users to more private chats, including on the platform, where they can plan and coordinate with impunity.”

The Tech Transparency Project found that users are looking for “active patriots” to discuss anti-government ideology, attend meetings and receive combat training. The latter lends itself to a common theme: being prepared to confront, or even go to war with, enemies like drag queens, pro-Palestinian students, and the government itself.

Take a recent post from an admin of a group called Pennsylvania Light Foot, which has over 1,000 members: “In light of the violence and uncertainty in the world, the shortage of Covid 19, civil unrest, and the potential for terrorist attacks and natural disasters, we exist to equip our members, our goal is to equip them with the ability to defend themselves, whether it’s a thief on the street or a foreign soldier on our lawn.” These sentiments were echoed by other extremist organizers on Facebook.

Meta has at least tried to create a facade of action and transparency. In 2019, a Supervisory Board was launched as an independent reviewer of content moderation. Although the organization pointed to Facebook’s role in dangerous campaign rhetoric, including incidents outside the United States, critics say it has not been effective enough. now, The Washington Post reports that layoffs in the Supervisory Board may be inevitable.

On Aug. 14, Meta will shut down CrowdTangle, a tool it bought in 2016 that allowed journalists and academics to see how conspiracy theories and disinformation circulated on Facebook and its sister site Instagram — often exposing the platforms’ flaws. The company is replacing it with the Meta Content Library, which not only appears less detailed, but is also unavailable to for-profit news organizations.