Several large tech companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo are fighting against proposed Senate legislation that would require them to alert the government of terrorist activity taking place on their pages.
“This is not your grandfather’s al-Qaida,” FBI Director James Comey said earlier this month. “This is a group of people using social media to reach thousands and thousands of followers, find the ones who might be interested in committing acts of violence, and then moving them to an (end-to-end) encrypted messaging app.”
While it looks bad on the surface for Facebook to take a stand against reporting terrorists, the site has good reason to be leery of government interference. Facebook’s public image is still recovering from the Edward Snowden leaks in 2013 that revealed that Facebook, Google and others were forced to comply with government orders to hand over user information.
However, Facebook says that it shares the government’s goals of eliminating terrorist content from the site, and that it deletes all content from these groups to prevent them from promoting themselves. As for why it opposes this specific legislation, Facebook said that it fears the proposed law is too broad and could leave the site on the hook if it missed even one terrorist post.
It’s certainly a complicated legal (and ethical) issue. Readers: do you think Facebook should work with the government to catch terrorists, or try to stop officials from snooping entirely?