Facebook Made a Cutesy Video About a Militia Member Who Stormed the Capitol

"Community means a lot," concludes the auto-generated video that shows Robert Gieswein posing with armed extremists.
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At first glance, the video is like the millions of others created automatically by Facebook’s artificial intelligence and posted to the platform every single day. 

Except instead of celebrating the anniversary of a friendship or the date you joined the social network, the video created by Facebook’s own algorithms and posted on Robert Gieswein’s page appears to celebrate a far-right extremist and his anti-government militia with the tagline: "community means a lot."

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The video came to light on Monday after Gieswein, a 24-year-old from Colorado, was arrested over the weekend together with a number of other alleged militia members for taking part in the Capitol riots on Jan. 6.

The incredibly creepy video created by Facebook’s algorithm and shared on Gieswein’s now-deleted Facebook page intersperses pictures of Gieswein dressed in combat gear alongside other armed individuals with messages of positivity about communities all around the world.

One of the pictures even shows Gieswein flashing a hand signal linked to a group known as the Three Percenters, an anti-government militia with links to a larger militia known as the Oath Keepers — who were heavily involved in organizing the Capitol riots.

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The video ends with the message: “Thanks for being part of the community.”

The video was automatically generated by the social media giant’s algorithm. The short videos are shown privately to users, who can then decide to post them on their feed or not.

According to an FBI affidavit made public on Sunday evening, Gieswein is accused of assaulting federal officers outside the Capitol with bear spray and a baseball bat before he “encouraged other rioters as they broke a window of the Capitol building; entered … and then charged through the Capitol building.”

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Gieswein runs a private paramilitary training group called the Woodland Wild Dogs, and a patch for that group was visible on a tactical vest he wore during the attack on Congress, the affidavit said.

Gieswein’s now-deleted Facebook page contained a range of images showing his affiliations, including one photo taken in front of a bar belonging to Rep. Lauren Boebert, in which Gieswein is seen kneeling and flashing the Three Percenters hand signal.

The FBI affidavit points out that Gieswein’s helmet is visible in a video that shows Proud Boy member Dominic "Spazzo" Pezzola allegedly smashing through a Capitol window with a police shield, and he is again seen inside the Capitol alongside Pezzola confronting police.

Facebook has long touted its artificial intelligence systems as a solution not only to its content moderation problems but also for flagging problematic content before it is even posted on the site — but in this case, it was Facebook’s own automated systems that created the problem. 

“Facebook’s AI-generated videos raising up and celebrating a far-right militia member who was just arrested for his part in a coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol is another example in a long line of why Facebook cannot be its own judge and jury,” a spokesperson for the Real Facebook Oversight Board, an activist group of Facebook critics, told VICE News. 

“Suggesting that violent militias are a ‘community’ that ‘means a lot’ isn’t just offensive. It’s incredibly dangerous, especially at a time of serious unrest that threatens the peaceful transfer of power in the United States.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the limitations of its artificial intelligence systems, or whether it felt the video was tacitly endorsing Gieswein and the Three Percenters.