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People Are Using Secret Facebook Groups To Spread Hate We Can’t See. We Need Your Help.

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We recently uncovered racist, sexist and hateful posts and comments in a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents.

Such secret Facebook groups are only visible to their members. This means the general public cannot flag inflammatory posts and exchanges, such a photo illustration depicting President Donald Trump sexually assaulting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and posts making fun of migrants who died while crossing the Rio Grande.

Since we published our story, more people have gotten in touch to tell us about other secret groups that may warrant closer scrutiny.

We know there are members of groups who don’t agree with everything that is said in these forums. We also recognize that these groups can be a helpful support network for often-complicated issues that come up on the job. So we need your guidance to do more reporting. We’d like to hear about what’s happening in your communities, particularly from those of you who are concerned public servants.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Are you in a group whose members are posting content that causes you concern? Tell us what you’ve seen. Have you reported something to Facebook that the company left up? We’d like to see that, too.
  • Are you eligible to join groups in your community that might have concerning posts from public officials? You can join and report back on anything of concern you think we should see. For example: Are you a Border Patrol or ICE agent? A police officer? A corrections officer? A TSA agent? A service member? Let us know if there are groups you think journalists should examine.

We don’t want you to do anything that would jeopardize your safety or endanger your career. If you have concerns, please feel free to get in touch with us directly on Signal, an encrypted app for messages and calls; send a message to 347-244-2134. If you’d like to contact a reporter, email [email protected]. We’re also happy to help you figure out what to screenshot.

The best way to help us is by filling out the following questionnaire. It will ask you for:

  • A picture or screenshot of the group’s “about” page, including its background photo, number of members and starting date.
  • Information about the group’s administrators (the people who created or moderate the activity), in case we need to contact them.
  • Any information you have about who belongs to the group.
  • Screenshots of posts you think we should see.

Instructions for viewing a specific post on Facebook.

To take a screenshot of a whole post along with all of its comments, you can click on the date or time of the post to open it in a new browser window. If you’re on your phone, you’ll need to take multiple screenshots of the post as you scroll down. If you’re on a desktop or laptop computer, you can use a browser extension, like Full Page Screen Capture, to take a screenshot of the whole post.

If you need help capturing images, please get in touch with us.

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