How Facebook is Dealing With Terrorism
Facebook came under siege from thousands of its users, blaming the social networking site for not responding to terror ridden content quick enough. Some 135,000 people have signed a petition already with Change.org, who are claiming that Facebook has been irresponsible with their “safety checks.” How do you think Facebook should be dealing with terrorism?
By Leyla Ok
The petition put forward by Change.org had come about after the attacks that took place in Paris just recently and was addressed more specifically to Facebook declaring: “Dear Facebook, thanks for the ‘Safety-Check,’ but on fighting ISIS, you can do much better!”.
There has also been a call out to all social networking sites to be more aware of the safety of their users- suggesting that more transparency is needed. The post criticised Facebook for not dealing with “sick jihadi accounts” that posted messages immediately after the terror attacks in Paris- showing full support for the ordeal.
Social Media Users Exposed To Crime
It seems social media is slowly becoming a free platform for unethical and immoral groups of people to harm, hire or have others exposed to their dangerous movements and motives.
This kind of interaction with users has not only affected all kinds of users – honest and good people are having to refrain from using these channels for personal or business purposes. Many have reported- they no longer see the appeal of Facebook.
Social media is becoming untrustworthy and parents are more inclined to stop their children from using or holding a social media account. Many young adults and teens, especially girls are being poached, brainwashed and recruited by some of these terror groups and are hired (or taken) to be “The Face” of some of these movements.
Last month, there were 32 reported cases of young girls missings in europe who had run away from home and fled the country in a bid to support some of these terror groups. This is alarming news to anyone.
Facebook hit back with a statement made by Monika Bickert, Head of Global Product Policy stating: “there is no place on Facebook for terrorists, terrorist propaganda or the praising of terror.”
And yet, the social networking giant has struggled to filter through content that promotes terror. How else did these young people influenced or targeted if not through Facebook or other social media channels?[Tweet “How do you think #Facebook is dealing with Terrorism? #propaganda? @Cloudnames”]
Dangerous Video Content
More and more propaganda videos were being shared virally by certain terror groups endorsing illegal and disturbing behaviour, which has been accessible by everyone and anyone across the globe, who holds an account.
Twitter, Facebook and the Government were not able to react quick enough. Reports and complaints were pouring in, and still continues to – as it seems it’s taking too long to filter through dangerous content. Facebook and other social networking channels have failed to delete suspicious accounts in due time. But will this change?
In January, Twitter suspended the Somali-based Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group’s account titled ‘Al-Shabaab’. The account was taken offline after the group posted a video on Twitter threatening to kill two Kenyan hostages unless the Kenyan government met its demands.
Twitter refrained from making a comment about the account deletion, but social-media experts reasoned that Al-Shabaab had violated Twitter’s terms of service, which prohibit direct threats of violence.
But this doesn’t stop accounts being recreated. For instance, when Twitter suspends one account, a new one is easily created. One terror group created it’s 99th account which was suspended, and it hit back worse by creating another mocking Twitter account called “@IslamicState100”, posting images of birthday candles, cake, trophies and fireworks.
Terror Groups Seeking More Publicity
The fact is, sadly- terrorist groups seek to reach a broader global audience. Their presence on social networks is evidently a challenge to control for the channels like Twitter and Facebook.
The disputes made by social media users are these: When an Art lover like Gustave Courbet posted “The Origin of the World” on Facebook, the smart porn-detection algorithm found it immediately and banned the content almost instantly.
But, when it came to videos or images advocating terrorism, Facebook was happy to allow a comfortable delay before content or an account was deleted. This inevitably makes us ask; how is this possible? Why is it possible?
Change.org rightfully put forward this statement: “Today, you have more influence on your billions of users’ lives than governments. You have the technological power to act fast, change algorithms and train your moderation teams, so that they are up to the challenge we are facing.”
A Chance To Be Dealing with Terrorism
Monika Bickert also suggested that there are instances when Facebookers share “upsetting content” for valuable reasons, such as to promote awareness on certain issues, and Facebook won’t block content that is shared in this context for example.
“Many people in volatile regions are suffering unspeakable horrors that fall outside the reach of media cameras. Facebook provides these people a voice, and we want to protect that voice. For this reason, we allow people to discuss these events and share some types of violent images but only if they are clearly doing so to raise awareness or condemn violence.”
As terrorist organisations or groups continue to use social media to expose their threats or manipulate audiences, free-speech activists are likely to become more aggressive in their bid for more transparent policies regarding account deletions.
Although governments are keen to cut them off, it is evident that social-media sites will have to make important decisions of where to draw the line- as user safety and experience is what drives their purpose in the first place.
Using Social Media to Catch Terror Groups
It is also true that removing all terror-related content is not preferred by some law enforcement. In many cases, technology executives say, they have been told to keep terror driven content so that law enforcement agents can monitor how terrorists network.
Not only that, but also content was created by law enforcement agents themselves to lure terrorists into releasing information. But at what or who’s expense?
Facebook primarily relies on user reports to sniff out terrorist accounts, but recently it has gone much further. If the company is informed of specific terrorising activity, Facebook will take down the account as well as others similar to those that are reported.
But this doesn’t always run smoothly, as Facebook recently disabled a woman’s account because her birth name is ‘Isis Anchalee’, who is an engineer based in San Francisco. Miss Anchalee complained on Twitter that her Facebook account had been disabled, and suggested it was because of her name- which was upsetting to her.[Tweet “#Terror groups use Social Media to #recruit #followers. Do you think Facebook does enough to prevent it? #SoMe @cloudnames”]
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