While still facing criticism over the censorship of conservatives, Facebook was walloped by a report this month that documented hundreds of pro-terrorist pages created by the social media giant itself.
The report came in the form of a Sept. 12 update to the National Whistleblower Center’s assessment of criminal and terrorist activity on social media.
“Nearly 200 auto-generated business pages for the Islamic State were recently identified,” the report reads, “and dozens more pages for other terrorist groups including Al Qaeda and Ansar Al Sharia remain on the site.”
Some of the vile pages carry names that one might think should trigger a lightning-fast response from Facebook’s supposedly sophisticated algorithm, including “I love islamic state,” “Afghanistan Terrorist School” and “Islamic State Training Camp.”
It can’t be stressed enough that these are not pages created by individuals that happened to slip past Facebook’s algorithm, but rather pages auto-generated by the social media platform itself.
Facebook’s response to the controversy downplayed the significance of the pro-terrorism pages.
“Our priority is detecting and removing content posted by people that violates our policy against dangerous individuals and organizations to stay ahead of bad actors,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Associated Press.
“Auto-generated pages are not like normal Facebook pages as people can’t comment or post on them and we remove any that violate our policies.”
“While we cannot catch every one, we remain vigilant in this effort,” the spokesperson said.
John Kostyack, executive director at the National Whistleblower Center, is unconvinced that Facebook’s reliance on algorithms is the magic bullet the social media giant insists it is.
“Facebook would like us to believe that its magical algorithms are somehow scrubbing its website of extremist content,” Kostyack told the AP.
“Yet those very same algorithms are auto-generating pages with titles like ‘I Love Islamic State,’ which are ideal for terrorists to use for networking and recruiting.”
These revelations would be sickening by themselves, but they come at a time when Facebook is still engaged in outright censorship of conservative viewpoints.
It boils down to this: While Facebook let pro-terrorism pages stay up for extended periods of time, the platform had no problem removing a post from angel mom Mary Ann Mendoza.
It’s not just everyday citizens who are getting punished by Facebook, either.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s own page was hit by the social media giant, and had a vital feature turned off shortly before a crucial and close election.
The page was found guilty of posting “hate speech,” according to Facebook’s guidelines.
Facebook undoubtedly has the power to shape culture and politics across the world through its selective censorship, and this recent revelation of auto-generated pro-terrorism pages is even more worrying.
The social media company is currently attempting to win back public favor and appease lawmakers.
But it’s becoming clear Facebook can’t be trusted to police public discussion, let alone itself.
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