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Facebook accused of introducing jihadis to one another through ‘suggested friends’ feature

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We are seeing an unprecedented erosion in our First Amendment rights, increasingly prohibiting the flow of ideas and free expression in the public square (social media). Run by left-wing self-possessed snowflakes, social media giants are indulging their worst autocratic impulses. And because they can, it is getting worse. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This story provides abundant evidence of that: Facebook energetically bans and chokes off voices that dissent from the hard-left agenda, but allowed jihadis to proliferate, and enabled them to meet each other.

Anti-trust legislation to break up Facebook is urgently needed.

“Facebook accused of introducing extremists to one another through ‘suggested friends’ feature,” by Martin Evans, Telegraph, May 5, 2018 (thanks to Vikram):

Facebook has helped introduce thousands of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) extremists to one another, via its ‘suggested friends’ feature, it can be revealed.

The social media giant – which is already under fire for failing to remove terrorist material from its platform – is now accused of actively connecting jihadists around the world, allowing them to develop fresh terror networks and even recruit new members to their cause.

Researchers, who analysed the Facebook activities of a thousand Isil supporters in 96 countries, discovered users with radical Islamist sympathies were routinely introduced to one another through the popular ‘suggested friends’ feature.

Using sophisticated algorithms, Facebook is designed to connect people who share common interests.

The site automatically collects a vast amount of personal information about its users, which is then used to target advertisements and also direct people towards others on the network they might wish to connect with.

But without effective checks on what information is being shared, terrorists are able to exploit the site to contact and communicate with sympathisers and supporters.

The extent to which the ‘suggested friend’ feature is helping Isil members on Facebook is highlighted in a new study, the findings of which will be published later this month in an extensive report by the Counter Extremism Project a non profit that has called on tech companies to do more to remove known extremist and terrorist material online.

Gregory Waters, one of the authors of the report, described how he was bombarded by suggestions for pro-Isil friends, after making contact with one active extremist on the site.

Even more concerning was the response his fellow researcher, Robert Postings, got when he clicked on several non-extremist news pages about an Islamist uprising in the Philippines.

Within hours he had been inundated with friend suggestions for dozens of extremists based in that region.

Mr Postings said: “Facebook, in their desire to connect as many people as possible have inadvertently created a system which helps connect extremists and terrorists.”

Once initial introductions are made the failure of Facebook to tackle extremist content on the site means Jihadists can quickly radicalise susceptible targets.

In one example uncovered by the researchers, an Indonesian Isil supporter sent a friend request to a non-Muslim user in New York in March 2017.

During the initial exchange the American user explained that he was not religious , but had an interest in Islam.

Over the following weeks and months the Indonesian user began sending increasingly radical messages and links including pro-Isil propaganda, all of which were liked by his target.

Mr Postings said: “Over a period of six months the [US based user] went from having no clear religion to becoming a radicalised Muslim supporting Isil.”

The study also examined the extent to which Facebook was failing to tackle terrorist material on its site.

Of the 1,000 Isil supporting profiles examined by researchers, less than half of the accounts had been suspended by Facebook six months later.

Mr Posting said: “Removing profiles that disseminate IS propaganda, calls for attacks and otherwise support the group is important…the fact that the majority of pro-IS profiles in this database have gone unremoved by Facebook is exceptionally concerning.”…

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