Second Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez is taking on Facebook in his battle against the New Mexico Civil Guard, which he says is breaking the law by acting as a self-appointed military force in the state.
The Albuquerque-based prosecutor filed a petition Monday asking a California Superior Court judge to force the social media behemoth to comply with a subpoena from his office that seeks information regarding accounts set up by the right-wing militia group and its members.
Torrez said militia members used Facebook to recruit, organize and direct members in addition to telling them where to meet and how to prepare themselves ahead of protests.
The prosecutor said at a news conference Monday the company took down pages associated with the Civil Guard because the accounts violated Facebook’s own polices regarding dangerous individuals and organizations. But he added Facebook has refused to provide information he seeks about who set up and controlled the accounts.
“Facebook is asking Congress and the American people to trust it to regulate extremist content on its platform and yet refuses to turn over basic account information about an identified extremist group that used that same platform to recruit, organize and direct its members to engage in unlawful activity,” he wrote in a news statement.
Torrez said he disagrees with Facebook’s argument that the Stored Communication Act shields the company from producing the information and finds it “hard to believe that a trillion dollar tech company cannot retrieve account information about a group that the company removed from the platform because of its extremist activities.
“Either they have the records and won’t turn them over,” Torrez wrote in his statement, “or they permanently destroyed the records, which begs the question of how Facebook intends to prevent members of this extremist group from opening new accounts in the future.”