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Chapter Three:

The Online Army

Ammon’s Army: Inside the Far-Right People’s Rights Network

Chapter Three:

The Online Army

People's Rights Used Facebook to Recruit an Army. Now They Are Moving On.

One of the ways People’s Rights has been able to grow so quickly is by capitalizing on existing far-right networks on Facebook. For over a decade, militias, Three Percenters, and other far-right groups have had free reign on Facebook’s platform. Data collected by report researchers indicates that People’s Rights groups were built atop that legacy. Part of the “People’s Rights” brand was to simultaneously paper over that history while situating the group at the heart of COVID-19 insurrection.

The first People’s Rights private Facebook group was created at the end of April, with most of the rest coming online in June. As of September, the network built out twenty-one different Facebook groups covering Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Missouri, and Nebraska.[28] They also convinced the Facebook group Open Carry Utah, which had been created back in 2015, to openly declare that it was an “arm of”[29] Among those groups, there are 8,193 unique members. People’s Rights also has six Facebook pages representing groups in four states (Idaho, Georgia, Montana, and Washington) as well as the national organization. Those pages have been liked by 9,483 people. Local activists have effectively used Facebook to recruit members, publicize their activities, and livestream their protest demonstrations.

Even before Facebook’s recent removal of some militia and Three Percenter groups, People’s Rights was already moving away from the platform. Rather than bank on Facebook to communicate with members, People’s Rights has chosen a more direct path. The People’s Rights network relies primarily on an online tool to communicate actions to members via SMS text message.

Prospective members enter their cellphone number and other information on the group’s website or send a text message to People’s Rights national. Prospective members then receive a text message containing a temporary Access Code that needs to be entered on the website to verify the member. That information is shared with local area leaders. Cellphone numbers are also used to send text messages or voicemails to activists about upcoming events.

Visualizing the Network

An Interactive Visualization of People’s Rights Facebook Social Network

In some ways, the People’s Rights communications structure is a bit of a throwback, harkening to the days of the old “telephone tree” where each activist has a set of pre-determined people they must relay information to when phoned. After a call was started, it would proliferate through the network, each person calling their handful of contacts, until everyone was contacted. Now the system is automated via text message. All the members of a specific area can be contacted by a local area assistant, an entire state can be contacted by a state assistant, and the entire network can be sent text messages by Bundy and crew. Individuals can also join the network via text message. Such a system allows much of the network’s activity to occur away from prying eyes on social media.

As Florida Area 12 assistant Rachael Love Cohen described in August, “Unlike social media platforms, People’s Rights offers a secure messaging system that will provide us the security we need when we are shut down by the ever-increasing media censorship. This is our primary vehicle to use in emergency situations.”[30]

Fearing Facebook action against People’s Rights, Bundy announced in September that the network is also building out its own social networking site. It will have to compete with several new Idaho far-right social networking sites that came online this month.[31] On October 6, Oregon Area 1 assistant, Sonja Persey, indicated a shift in a similar direction, when she announced that she was shifting the group’s Facebook page over to a WIMKIN social network site. Persey cited Facebook “censorship” for the move and invited existing members to join at that platform.[32]

As People’s Rights grew, Bundy continued to broaden that appeal. Decrying potential electoral success by liberals, Bundy warned, “They’re not going to respect our rights. They’re going to try and make laws to take our arms away, to take our liberty to worship away, to take the right that we have to decide what goes into our bodies and our children’s bodies away, that’s what it means. And because we have legislators who believe in liberal ideas, all of a sudden now, all our rights are gone? No, that’s not the way it works.” [33] Not content with a band of “Don’t Tread on Me” flag-wavers, Bundy was charming a viper’s nest of armed activists ready to strike.


Two: Uncovering the People’s Rights Network


Four: A Den of Rattlesnakes


[28] Current list of People’s Rights Facebook groups includes People’s Rights – North Idaho (Area 1), People’s Rights-Area 4, People’s Rights Idaho AREA 3 Group, Peoples Rights Idaho Area 5, People’s Rights Idaho AREA 8, People’s Rights IDAHO Group, People’s Rights Missouri, Montana District 1 People’s Rights, People’s Rights Nebraska, People’s rights Oregon 5, People’s Rights Oregon 1, People’s Rights Zone 3, Open Carry UTAH- OCU (An arm of, Area 1 People’s Rights Washington, Area 4 People’s Rights Washington, People’s Rights Washington Area 2N, People’s Rights Washington Area 2S, People’s Rights Washington Area 3, People’s Rights Washington Area 5, People’s Rights Washington Area 6, People’s Rights Washington Area 7, People’s Rights Washington Area 8, People’s Rights Washington Group.

[29] Open Carry UTAH- OCU (An arm of Facebook Group.

[30] Cohen, Rachael Love. Facebook. August 19, 2020.

[31] Freedombook and the Idaho Liberty Alliance social network both came online in September 2020.

[32] Persey, Sonja. Facebook. October 6, 2020.

[33] Bundy, Ammon. “People’s Rights Meeting – Emmett, Idaho 09-03-2020.” People’s Rights Facebook Video. September 3, 2020.

Ammon's Army

Inside the Far-Right People's Rights Network

A Special Report of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and the Montana Human Rights Network

Copyright © 2020. Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights.