A new study released this week found that not only are terrorist groups active on Facebook, but that the social media giant may be unintentionally creating terrorist content based on what they share.
The investigation, conducted by the National Whistleblowers Center, analyzed the pages of 3,000 Facebook members with connections to terrorist organizations. Researchers also discovered that Facebook is auto-generating content like “Memories” videos and “Local Business’ pages for terrorist organizations. One business page for al-Qaeda has even accumulated over 7,000 likes.
For its part, Facebook claims that it catches extremist content with 99 percent efficiency, removing it before any user ever even sees it. However, researchers are skeptical of the company’s claim. According to Amr Al Azm, one of the researchers involved in the project, his team was able to identify many terrorist profiles with a basic keyword search.
I mean, that’s just stretching the imagination to beyond incredulity,” he said of Facebook’s claim. “If a small group of researchers can find hundreds of pages of content by simple searches, why can’t a giant company with all its resources do it?”
One U.S. lawmaker has already weighed in on the controversy, too, with Rep. Bennie Thompson telling the AP that “This is yet another deeply worrisome example of Facebook’s inability to manage its own platforms — and the extent to which it needs to clean up its act.”
Facebook walks a tightrope when it comes to censorship, but no one would disagree that it needs to do a much better job of enforcing its own rules when it comes to bad actors like this.
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