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Militias adapting after Facebook ban

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | August 23, 2020 1:40 AM

Militias adapting after Facebook bans pages

North Idaho militias are standing their ground and developing counter-strategies after the social media icon Facebook began a campaign to remove pages its officials believe promote violence.

Since Wednesday, Facebook has removed almost 1,600 groups, pages and ads belonging to militias and violent leftists the platform says meet this criteria.

Pages removed so far include the groups Real Three Percenters of Idaho, the Kootenai County Light Foot Militia and the Oath Keepers of Kootenai County, as well as militias in Bonner and Boundary counties. The page for the North Idaho Militia was still up and running as of press time, but administrators left a post to its visitors, alerting them of a social media worst-case scenario.

“Facebook has been deleting militia pages,” the post reads above the North Idaho Militia’s badge. “Our militia page could be gone at any time. We are going to be posting everything on our Prepper Facebook page. Please follow us there.”

The same post was found on Facebook’s North Idaho Preppers page.

Brett Surplus, leader of Panhandle Band of Brothers and one of the organizers behind the hundreds of armed citizens who filled the streets of downtown Coeur d’Alene in early June in response to threats of riots, said Facebook only represents a delivery system, not the message itself.

“Defending our community isn’t done by fan pages,” Surplus said. “It’s done by patriots answering the call to action. Wars aren’t won by Likes.”

While Surplus said Panhandle Band of Brothers’ page is still up and running, he was prepared should Facebook remove it, comparing the setback to the tribulations of Paul Revere.

“Before Facebook, a lone rider rode with lantern to alert the town,” he said. “I can light a lantern.”

Facebook, meanwhile, defended its decision, which goes beyond page removals to include reducing appearances in newsfeeds, limiting recommendations for similar pages, prohibiting certain ads and prohibiting fundraising efforts for such groups.

“While we will allow people to post content that supports these movements and groups,” Facebook administration wrote, “so long as they do not otherwise violate our content policies, we will restrict their ability to organize on our platform.”