Content that promotes the extremist “boogaloo” movement has proliferated on the social media platform TikTok, even though the company prohibits “dangerous individuals or organizations” from using the service to “cause harm.”
The boogaloo movement, as described by NBC News, is “an anti-government movement that advocates for a violent uprising” and “wants a second Civil War.” The movement has its roots on the message board site 4chan, which is known for hosting white nationalists, and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has noted that “from militia groups to white supremacists, extremists on a range of online platforms talk about—and sometimes even anticipate—the ‘boogaloo.’” Multiple supporters of the movement have been arrested for alleged acts of violence, such as attempting to murder a police officer and attempting to “commit an act of terrorism” during protests in Las Vegas, Nevada. Its supporters -- known for sometimes wearing Hawaiian shirts -- have also been spotted carrying guns at the protests around the country spurred by the police killing of George Floyd. An ADL researcher told The Daily Beast that boogaloo “is inherently a violent ideology.”
In January, TikTok expanded its community guidelines. One of the expanded sections is on “dangerous individuals and organizations,” and it prohibits “dangerous individuals or organizations” from using TikTok to “promote terrorism, crime, or other types of behavior that could cause harm.” The guidelines also prohibit content that “praises, glorifies, or supports dangerous individuals and/or organizations” and use of the platform by “non-state actors that use premeditated violence or threats of violence to cause harm to non-combatant individuals, in order to intimidate or threaten a population, government, or international organization in the pursuit of political, religious, ethnic, or ideological objectives.”
Despite those rules, a review by Media Matters found many videos, mostly posted in the past three months, promoting, supporting, or mentioning the boogaloo movement, often encouraging people to be involved in the movement directly. Many of these also often displayed firearms, even though the platform’s community guidelines generally prohibit it. These videos, which have at least hundreds of thousands of views combined, have used hashtags -- which help people find videos about similar topics -- that would seem to affiliate themselves with boogaloo, such as “#boogalo,” “#bogaaloo,” and “#boog” (though not every video using those hashtags was clearly connected to boogaloo). There used to be a “#boogaloo” hashtag on TikTok, according to a May Gizmodo report, but the page for that hashtag is no longer up. Media Matters’ review still found videos with that hashtag alongside the others.
In one video from March, which has more than 360,000 views, different images pop up calling for rebellion, including against “enemies” both “foreign and domestic,” with the text over the face of Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.
In another video, which was posted in April and has more than 16,000 views, a man is shown holding a military-style assault weapon, ranting about government restrictions due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and saying, “It’s fucking boog time, boys. Let’s go.”
Another video, from May and with more than 110,000 views, features a man holding what appears to be a rifle and on-screen text asking, “Will you boogaloo?”
Another video from that month, with 11,000 views, from an account calling itself “boogaloo.hype.house.og,” features a man holding what appears to be a pistol with the text “finding people to boog with” and “becoming more and more willing to die.”
Other videos on the platform with boogaloo-related hashtags -- and tens of thousands of combined views -- have featured similar language, telling people that it was “time to boog” and that it was “boogaloo time betch,” along with discussing “who will participate in the boog” and doing “boogaloo prepping.” One video even threatens “a boogaloo” on a transgender person who criticized white supremacy. Another video with more than 240,000 views shows military books about weapons and tactics.