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Tag: Social Media

CBP Investigating 62 Border Patrol Agents Who Used Demeaning Facebook Page

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

At least 62 current and eight former Border Patrol employees are accused of joining a private Facebook group and other social media pages that mocked migrants and lawmakers.

CBP officials said most of employees were part of a secret Facebook group called “I’m 10-15,” which included offensive content and demeaning posts that targeted undocumented immigrants and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

One of the posts was an illustration of President Trump pushing the congresswoman’s head toward his crotch. In another post, a member encouraged agents to toss a “burrito at these bitches,” referring to members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who were visiting detention centers.

In one post, commenters questioned the authenticity of a now-viral photo of a drowned man and his younger daughter.

Investigators are reviewing images, memes and comments posted on multiple Facebook groups, said Matthew Klein, a Customs and Border Protection assistant commissioner.

“To be clear, the expectations of professional conduct don’t end at the end of the shift,” Klein told journalists. “Those are our expectations of our employees.”

The case was referred to Homeland Security’s watchdog group, which chose not to investigate and returned the case to CBP.

ProPublica first reported on “I’m 10-15,” which had roughly 9,500 members.

Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost, who originally responded with repulsion, also posted on the page.

Border Patrol Chief Not Only Knew about Secret FB Page, She Posted on It

Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost responded with repulsion when a news agency discovered a secret Facebook group filled with racist, demeaning and sexist content.

“These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see — and expect — from our agents day in and day out,” Provost said in a statement after Intercept revealed the group’s vulgar messages. “Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”

Turns out, Provost posted on the Facebook group’s page, known as “I’m 10-15,” two months after she was appointed to lead the agency. The group is for current and former border agents.

While her comments were harmless, her posts show she knew about the group before Intercept wrote about it.

The Facebook group included offensive content and demeaning posts that targeted undocumented immigrants and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
 One of the posts was an illustration of President Trump pushing the congresswoman’s head toward his crotch. In another post, a member encouraged agents to toss a “burrito at these bitches,” referring to members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who were visiting detention centers.

In one post, commenters questioned the authenticity of a now-viral photo of a drowned man and his younger daughter.

When ProPublica approached CBP about the Facebook group, Provost pledged to launch an investigation.

Last week, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter asking Homeland Security’s office to investigate whether Provost or any other leaders previously knew about the group.

Thompson responded to Intercept after it revealed Provost posted on the page.

“This is why I have requested a full investigation into this matter,” Thompson said in a statement. “We need to know who in CBP leadership knew about these deplorable groups, when did they find out, and what action they took, if anything.”

Homeland Security: CBP Agents Disciplined for Offensive Facebook Posts

Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan on ABC’s “This Week.”

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Customs and Border Protection agents who posted offensive and sexually demeaning content on Facebook have been disciplined, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told ABC’s “This Week.”

McAleenan said some agents were placed on “administrative duties” and others were warned to stop the conduct in letters. He did not specify how many agents were involved.

“The agents will be held accountable if they are CBP employees who did inappropriate things. I don’t think it’s reflective of the men and women we have,” McAleenan said.

The Facebook page, called “I’m 10-15,” was first reported by ProPublica on Monday. The page is used by current and former agents.

The Facebook group included offensive content and demeaning posts that targeted undocumented immigrants and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
 One of the posts was an illustration of President Trump pushing the congresswoman’s head toward his crotch. In another post, a member encouraged agents to toss a “burrito at these bitches,” referring to members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who were visiting detention centers.

Commenters also questioned the authenticity of a now-viral photo of a drowned man and his younger daughter.

When ProPublica approached CBP about the Facebook group, Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost denied knowing about it and pledged to launch an investigation.

But Politico reported that CBP officials knew about a secret, sexist and demeaning Facebook group for at least three years. In 2016, Border Patrol agents reported offensive photos that included simulated sex acts and other offensive material, a current Homeland Security official told Politico.

McAleenan on Sunday said he “was not aware of this group” at the time. Since then, he claimed, one agent was disciplined.

Politico received screenshots of Facebook posts that were reported to CBP. One agent appeared in two photos, one of which showed him simulating sex with a training mannequin. The other showed the agent smiling and posing with what appeared to be a human skull. In a third photo, an agent appeared to be defecting in the Arizona desert.

The reported photos resulted in a now-closed investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility.

CBP Aware of Secret, Offensive Facebook Group for Years

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Customs and Border Protection officials knew about a secret, sexist and demeaning Facebook group for at least three years but declined to say whether anyone was disciplined.

In 2016, Border Patrol agents reported offensive photos that included simulated sex acts and other offensive material, a current Homeland Security official told Politico. A former DHS officials also said he knew about the Facebook group during the past year.

Neither official was aware of any serious actions taken against members of the group, called “I’m 10-15,” which was first reported by ProPublica on Monday.

The Facebook group included offensive content and demeaning posts that targeted undocumented immigrants and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
One of the posts was an illustration of President Trump pushing the congresswoman’s head toward his crotch. In another post, a member encouraged agents to toss a “burrito at these bitches,” referring to members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who were visiting detention centers.

In one post, commenters questioned the authenticity of a now-viral photo of a drowned man and his younger daughter.

When ProPublica approached CBP about the Facebook group, Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost denied knowing about it and pledged to launch an investigation.

Politico received screenshots of Facebook posts that were reported to CBP. One agent appeared in two photos, one of which showed him simulating sex with a training mannequin. The other showed the agent smiling and posing with what appeared to be a human skull.

In a third photo, an agent appeared to be defecting in the Arizona desert.

The reported photos resulted in a now-closed investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility. But a CBP spokesperson declined to say whether any disciplinary action was taken.

CBP Investigates Offensive Posts on Border Patrol Facebook Group

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is investigating a secret and offensive Facebook group reportedly used by current and former Border Patrol agents.

ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news outlet, revealed the group, which included offensive content and demeaning posts that targeted undocumented immigrants and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

One of the posts included an illustration of President Trump pushing the congresswoman’s head toward his crotch. In another post, a member encouraged agents to toss a “burrito at these bitches,” referring to members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Commenters also questioned the authenticity of a viral photo of a drowned man and his younger daughter.

Ocasio-Cortez said the posts reflect “a violent culture.”

“This isn’t just about ‘a few bad eggs,'” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “This is a violent culture.”

Border Patrol chief Carla Provost slammed the social media page as “completely inappropriate.”

“These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see — and expect — from our agents day in and day out,” Provost said in a pubic statement. “Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”

Matthew Klein, assistant commissioner of the Office of Professional Responsibility, cited CBP’s Standard of Conduct, which states, “Employees will not make abusive, derisive, profane, or harassing statements or gestures, or engage in any other conduct evidencing hatred or invidious prejudice to or about one person or group on account of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability. This includes comments and posts made on private social media sites.”

“Today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection was made aware of disturbing social media activity hosted on a private Facebook group that may include a number of CBP employees,” Klein said. “CBP immediately informed DHS Office of the Inspector General and initiated an investigation.”

Silly Conspiracy Theory Woven from Comey Tweet Prompts School to Cancel Event

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An innocuous tweet from former FBI Director James Comey turned into a bizarre conspiracy theory that prompted a California school to cancel its upcoming fundraiser.

The Grass Valley Charter School Foundation wasn’t taking any chances after an online conspiracy theory targeted the school.

The conspiracy began after Comey took part in a popular Twitter game, “Five Jobs I’ve Had,” in late April. A conspiracy theorist “isolated random letters and threaded them together to suggest ‘Five Jihad(s)’ involving ‘Grass Valley Charter School Foundation,’” KCRA 3 reports.

“It was everything from Comey and his people were going to come and kidnap our children to there was going to be a mass shooting,” foundation President Wendy Willoughby said.

Kathy Dotson, parent and co-producer of the fundraiser, said “you can’t help but take it seriously.”

In a letter to parents, school Principal Scott Maddock explained why the festival was canceled.

“I want to stress the fact that there was no threat made against our school,” the letter reads. “Law enforcement agencies are completely certain that this conspiracy theory poses no danger to our school or community. We are canceling the Blue Marble Jubilee because of the negative attention placed on our festival.”

Law enforcement did not consider the threat to be credible, but school officials and event organizers said they were worried about copycats.

“These theories, although they hold no basis in reality or fact, what they can do and have the power to do through social media is embolden unstable people to take action and potentially do dangerous things,” Willoughby said.

School officials moved the fundraiser online.

Russian Troll Farms Disproportionately Targeted African Americans, Congressional Reports Show

An image posted by a Russian troll farm, Black4Black.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Russia’s campaign to spread misinformation during the 2016 presidential race disproportionately targeted African Americans on numerous social media platforms, more than previously known, according to reports commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Two reports show the extent to which the Russian Internet Research Agency, a troll farm, sought to divide Americans with misinformation and meme content during the election.

One of the primary goals of the campaign, which was launched on every major social media platform, was to support Trump and to stir up racial tensions, according to the reports. 

The social media accounts were designed to look like Africans Americans were running the accounts, when in fact Russians had created and ran them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube and Reddit. The reports emphasized that Russia made an extraordinary effort to target African Americans.

“The most prolific I.R.A. efforts on Facebook and Instagram specifically targeted black American communities and appear to have been focused on developing black audiences and recruiting black Americans as assets,” one of the reports reads.

Black4Black, an account and website created by Russian troll farms.

The report adds that while “other distinct ethnic and religious groups were the focus of one or two Facebook Pages or Instagram accounts, the black community was targeted extensively with dozens.” 

Some of the examples include Facebook ads targeting users interested in black history, Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party. The most popular was an Instagram account called @blackstagram that gained more than 300,000 followers.

In addition, the troll farm created a dozen websites that looked like they were run by African Americans, with names like blackmattersus.com, blacktivist.info, blacktolive.org and blacksoul.us. 

Russian-created YouTube accounts played a big role in covering the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality, creating channels called “Don’t Shoot” and “BlackToLive.”

Simultaneously, the Russians created “Southern pride” accounts with Confederate flags.

The tactic of sowing racial divisions is nothing new with Russians, who decades ago exploited the sensitive topic of race in the U.S. to turn Americans on each other.

Many Trump voters cited anti-brutality protests as a reason they supported the president.

Alarmingly, the reports warned that Russians continue to use the social media platforms and plant to launch similar propaganda during the 2020 elections.

Trump’s Tweetstorm May Be Considered Obstruction And Witness-Tampering

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s habit of firing off incendiary tweets without consulting with White House attorneys may have landed him in hot water.

As special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigates whether Trump obstructed justice in connection with his 2016 presidential campaign, he “edged closer to an open display of obstruction of justice and witness tampering,” The Washington Post reports

In a series tweet Monday, Trump urged former aides aim to refuse to cooperate with the federal investigators and even appeared to imply threats against those who do.

It began with an attack on his former attorney Michael Cohen, suggesting he should receive no deals for cooperating with investigators.

“‘Michael Cohen asks judge for no Prison Time.’ You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, Taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term? … He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence,” Trump tweeted.

Subjects of criminal investigations are prohibited from retaliating against people who testify against them. 

Trump followed up the tweet with a quote from Stone: “I will never testify against Trump.”

Trump added, “This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump.’ Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!’ ”

The Washington Post wrote:

So where he threatened a stick against Cohen, Trump offered a carrot to Stone, signaling where their allegiances should lie. This proof of potential witness tampering and obstruction of justice is made even stronger by the fact that the messaging is from the person who holds the most powerful get-out-of-jail-free card: a presidential pardon.”

Taken together, Trump’s statements Monday are a message not only to Cohen and Stone, but also to anyone else who may be considering testifying or cooperating against the president or any of his associates. And the message is quite clear: Those who cooperate with law enforcement and agree to be witnesses against Trump will be punished, while those who keep his secrets will be protected.

The tweets Monday are not, alas, isolated incidents. The president has tweeted before that he is being persecuted by the special counsel’s office, purportedly threatened those in a position to preserve the Mueller investigation, asked for loyalty of those who might prosecute his confederates and engaged in a host of additional conduct evincing an intent to block Mueller’s work, as well as committing overt acts seemingly directed at obstructing the investigation.