The sister of a federal officer allegedly killed by a member of a domestic extremist movement is suing Facebook, charging that the platform’s recommendation system played a part in the radicalization of the people who are accused of carrying out the shooting.
Federal law enforcement officials allege that Dave Patrick Underwood, a Department of Homeland Security officer, was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting by Steven Carrillo in May 2020 while Underwood was standing watch outside the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, California. One week later, Carrillo was arrested after an alleged shootout with Santa Cruz County police officers that left Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller dead.
According to Facebook messages obtained by federal prosecutors, Carrillo met Robert Alvin Justus Jr., the driver of the vehicle from which he is alleged to have opened fire on Underwood, through Facebook groups for the Boogaloo movement, which first gained traction in early 2020 and espoused extreme anti-government views.
Facebook spokesperson Kevin McAllister said in an email that the company has taken aggressive action against extremist groups.
“We’ve banned more than 1,000 militarized social movements from our platform and work closely with experts to address the broader issue of internet radicalization. These claims are without legal basis," he wrote.