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New Mexico-Based Paramilitary Group Barred from Using Facebook Fundraising Tools

"People cannot use our fundraising tools for activities involving weapons," said a Facebook spokesperson in a statement"

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facebook, US-Mexico border
Boundary Monument 1, a historic U.S.-Mexico border marker, is seen from Sunland Park, N.M., April 24, 2019. This unfenced area of the border west of the Rio Grande was shown in videos shot by the United Constitutional Patriots. VOA

Facebook Inc on Thursday barred a New Mexico-based paramilitary group that has stopped undocumented migrants near the U.S.-Mexico border from using its fundraising tools and said it would remove any of its posts that violated company policies.

Facebook made the statement after a civil rights organization asked it to block videos posted by the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP), saying the clips violated its standards, which prohibit images showing criminal acts.

“People cannot use our fundraising tools for activities involving weapons,” said a Facebook spokesperson in a statement. “We will remove fundraisers this group may try to start on our service and any content that violates our Community Standards.”

Since February, the UCP has posted a string of videos showing members armed with semi-automatic rifles halting migrants in New Mexico and telling them to sit and wait for U.S. Border Patrol to arrest them.

US-mexico border, facebook
Larry Hopkins appears in a police booking photo, April 20, 2019. VOA

The UCP says the videos demonstrate its work helping Border Patrol detain some 5,600 migrants in just 60 days during a surge in illegal crossings. Civil rights groups accuse the group of illegally detaining asylum-seekers.

“These videos include content showing possible assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment,” the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said in a statement Thursday asking Facebook to remove them.

UCP spokesman Jim Benvie did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a Facebook Live post on Tuesday, he described the group’s videos as “citizen journalism” showing reality on the border. “There is a crisis at the border, we are being invaded,” Benvie said.

Social media policies

Facebook’s Community Standards bar users from publicizing crime, using hate speech or presenting arguments for restricting immigration policy, among other things, the spokesperson said.

facebook, us-mexico border
“People cannot use our fundraising tools for activities involving weapons,” said a Facebook spokesperson in a statement. VOA

PayPal and GoFundMe on Friday barred the UCP, citing policies that prohibit the promotion of hate or violence. New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham last week called for an investigation of the group.

ALSO READ: Know How U.S. is Keeping A Check on Social Media’s Spread of Fake News

The FBI arrested the UCP’s commander, Larry Hopkins, on Saturday on federal weapons charges dating back to 2017. Hopkins was assaulted in a New Mexico jail on Monday and hospitalized with broken ribs.

The UCP left its campsite Tuesday after Union Pacific Railroad accused it of trespassing, but Benvie said it would soon relocate to a nearby spot along the border. “We’re not going to quit fighting, we’re not going to quit reporting,” he said. (VOA)

Next Story

Social Networking Giant Facebook Blames Apple iOS for Bezos’ Phone Hacking

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Facebook has blamed Apple’s operating system for the hacking of Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone, saying WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is unhackable.

Investigators believe that Bezos’s iPhone was compromised after he received a 4.4MB video file containing malware via WhatsApp – in the same way when phones of 1,400 select journalists and human rights activists were broken into by Pegasus software from Israel-based NSO Group last year.

In an interview to the BBC last week, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications, Nick Clegg, said it wasn’t WhatsApp’s fault because end-to-end encryption is unhackable and blamed Apple’s operating system for Bezos’ episode.

“It sounds like something on the, you know, what they call the operate, operated on the phone itself. It can’t have been anything on the, when the message was sent, in transit, because that’s end-to-end encrypted on WhatsApp,” Clegg told the show host.

Clegg compared the hack to opening a malicious email, saying that “it only comes to life when you open it”.

According to a report from FTI Consulting, a firm that has investigated Bezos’ phone, after that the video file was received, Bezos’ phone started sending unusually large amounts of outbound data, including his intimate messages with his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

According to Clegg, “something” must have affected the phone’s operating system.

“As sure as you can be that the technology of end-to-end encryption cannot, other than unless you have handset, or you have the message at either end, cannot be hacked into,” he was quoted as saying.

Apple was yet to comment on Facebook’s statement.

The NSO Group has denied it was part of Bezos’ hacking.

Also Read: Here Are Some Life Lessons That We Can Learn From Freedom Fighters this Republic Day

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages. But the piece of NSO Group software exploited WhatsApp’s video calling system by installing the spyware via missed calls to snoop on the selected users.

According to leading tech policy and media consultant Prasanto K. Roy, end-to-end encrypted apps (E2EE) do provide security, and messages or calls cannot be intercepted and decrypted en route without enormous computing resources.

“But once anyone can get to your handset, whether a human or a piece of software, the encryption doesn’t matter anymore. Because on your handset, it’s all decrypted,” Roy told IANS recently. (IANS)