The sister of a murdered federal security officer has filed a groundbreaking wrongful death lawsuit against Facebook, alleging it played a role in radicalizing a far-right supporter of the extremist Boogaloo movement who is accused of killing her brother.
The security officer, Dave Patrick Underwood, was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2020 while protecting a federal courthouse during an Oakland, California, rally to protest the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“Facebook bears responsibility for the murder of my brother. As the lawsuit alleges, Facebook knowingly promoted inflammatory and violent content, and connected extremists who plotted and carried out the killing of my brother,” Angela Underwood Jacobs said in a statement provided to HuffPost after the suit was filed Thursday in California Superior Court in Alameda County.
“Facebook must be held responsible for the harm it has caused, not just to my family but so many others, by promoting extremist content and building extremist groups on its platform,” she added.
An investigation by the FBI discovered that Carrillo and his alleged accomplice met online through a Facebook group promoting the Boogaloo movement, which advocates attacking federal officers and overthrowing the government.
Underwood’s attorney Ted Leopold characterized the parent company of Facebook, now called Meta Platforms, as an “active participant” in the extremism peddled on its social media site.
“They are recruiting people to come onto their sites, and once they are on their sites they use a lot of different algorithms that will bring like-minded individuals together,” Leopold told ABC News.
“We believe and intend to show that Facebook’s conduct has led to a rise in extremism throughout the world and acts of real-world violence, including the murder of Officer Underwood,” Leopold said.
The suit states: “The shooting was not a random act of violence. It was the culmination of an extremist plot hatched and planned on Facebook by two men who Meta connected through Facebook’s groups infrastructure and its use of algorithms designed and intended to increase user engagement and, correspondingly, Meta’s profits.”
Facebook denied responsibility in Underwood’s death.
“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,” a spokesperson told ABC. “These claims are without legal basis.”
The lawsuit uses information exposed last year by former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen, who has released documents she says reveal that the company has failed to take adequate action to protect the public in its quest for ever-increasing profits.