Even After The Plot To Kidnap Gov. Whitmer, Michigan Militant Groups Continue To Thrive On Facebook

A day after the FBI disclosed that organized armed extremists coordinated on Facebook to hatch a terrorist plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, multiple pages that encourage political violence were still active on the social network.

An examination by BuzzFeed News and the Tech Transparency Project, a nonpartisan watchdog group, found at least five such pages on the platform as of Friday morning. Those pages, which in some cases appear to be simply rebranded versions of previously banned organizations, use Facebook to recruit and to promote objectives that at times call for violent uprising.

Facebook announced in August that it was banning right-wing militant, anarchist, and QAnon groups after a series of violent crimes were tied to organizations that used the platform. Since then, the company has removed thousands of groups, and this week announced it had banned all accounts, pages, and groups tied to QAnon, the collective delusion that alleges that a secretive government cabal is kidnapping children.

Despite Facebook’s efforts, some of those pages have escaped removal despite incorporating words such as “militia” or “minutemen” in their names or web addresses; others were created after Facebook removed their original groups or pages and appear to have avoided detection by making small changes to their names.

The Michigan Liberty Militia, for example, was banned from Facebook in August. On Sept. 11, it reappeared under a page with new, slightly altered moniker — MLM Michigan liberty minutemen — and marked its return with a picture of a flag bearing two hatchets, the Liberty Bell, and two assault rifles.

“We are back!” read a post on the page posted at 8:59 a.m. and signed by the group’s leader, Phil Robinson. “Help us rebuild share and invite friends.”

A Facebook spokesperson said Friday that its work to remove violent content and