Facebook’s secret blacklist

According to experts, Facebook’s list of dangerous objects is actually the embodiment of US foreign policy.

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Over the years, Facebook has maintained a list of individuals and organizations it considers dangerous. This secret blacklist is considered a way to help social networks control bad content.

However, many experts share with Intercept that Facebook should make the list public to clarify how it treats content and banned individuals and organizations.

Facebook’s standards

In 2012, Facebook began restricting free communication after receiving warnings from the US Congress and the United Nations. According to these agencies, online terrorist recruitment is on the rise on social media.

Over the years, the company has shown its efforts by adding provisions in the Community Standards, specifically creating a list of “Dangerful Individuals and Organizations” (DIO) to prevent the propagation of malicious actors. organizations engaged in terrorist acts or criminal activities.

In this way, 3 billion users are under Facebook’s control over freedom of speech, the ability to discuss or mention issues that the platform deems should be banned.

A page is published in the Facebook DIO list. Photo: Intercept.

Facebook’s DIO policy is essentially a blacklist that includes the names of more than 4,000 individuals and groups. Those mentioned have diverse careers, from politicians, writers, music artists, deceased historical figures to charities and hospitals.

Follow Intercept, subjects are grouped into categories including Hate, Crime, Terrorism, Militarized Social Movements, and Non-State Aggressors of Violence. These categories are organized into a 3-tier system, each of which corresponds to restrictions of different severity.

Of the 3 levels, Tier 1 is the strictest limit as users are not allowed to express anything considered praise or favors about the group and people in this tier, even during nonviolent activities (at the discretion of Facebook).

Targets in Tier 1 are groups, whose members are accused of terrorism (70%), hate crimes and criminals. The criminal category of Tier 1 is mostly American street gangs, Latin American drug cartels, mainly blacks and Latinos.

Tier 2, “Non-state actors of violence”, are mainly armed rebel groups targeting the government rather than civilians, factions fighting in the Syrian civil war. Users can praise groups in this tier for nonviolent actions, but may not show any “substantial support.”

Tier 3 is for groups that are non-violent but persistently hate speech, likely to use violence, or repeatedly violate DIO policy. The list also includes the Militarized Social Movements, most of which are right-wing militias fighting the US government, mostly white. Facebook users are free to discuss Tier 3 audiences.

Discontent from the public

“The lists appear to create two distinct systems, with the heaviest penalties being imposed on areas and communities with large concentrations of Muslims,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Center for Public Freedom. Brennan’s manager commented on the demographics between Tier 1 and Tier 3.

He said the policy shows that Facebook – like the US government – considers Muslims the most dangerous.

In response to a question about whether race and religion were influenced by rankings, a Facebook spokesperson insisted that no government has taken a more extreme approach when it comes to extremist hate groups. white supremacist and terrorist organization.

“Unlike some other definitions of terrorism, ours is agnostic to religion, region, political opinion or ideology. We have identified many organizations based outside the Middle East and South Asia as terrorists, including organizations in North America and Western Europe.

However, in the social network’s list, the number of terrorist groups listed with headquarters in North America or Western Europe is only a few dozen out of more than a thousand subjects.

In the eyes of politicians, the DIO policy has become an unacceptable system, causing unfavorable punishment for some subjects. According to one expert, this is just another attempt to limit personal freedom in the name of fighting terrorism.

Previously, Facebook had repeatedly refused to disclose information about its policies, but then pleased the public by saying it “wanted to be as transparent as possible”.

While it is intended to protect all Facebook users living in the United States or not, experts review the DIO policy and related rules that seem to clearly demonstrate the political and foreign policy concerns of the United States since then. 9/11.

Nearly every individual on the list is considered an enemy or threat by the United States or its allies. More than half of these include alleged foreign terrorists.

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Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Photo: Getty Images.

In addition, the Facebook list also shows a difference when it comes to defining “danger”. According to Facebook, the term refers to both the deceased 14-year-old Kashmiri child soldier, more than 200 music concerts, television stations, video game studios, airlines, medical universities under research. Iran’s Covid-19 vaccine. Many deceased historical figures such as Joseph Goebbels and Benito Mussolini also appear on the list.

A content curator working outside the US agrees that the listing reflects an Americanized notion of danger. “The designations appear to be based on US interests, and do not represent political realities in those countries,” the official said.

Signs of losing control

To enforce censorship, Facebook has made available an internal document about blacklisted individuals and groups. Despite the set of principles, many employees find it difficult to understand that they actually include a handful of examples instead of precise definitions.

Some puzzling holes have popped up in Facebook’s censorship process. Regarding the “We should invade Libya” statement appearing on the platform, the spokesperson said Facebook allows debate about military strategy and war “because that’s the reality of the world we live in.” “. Another example of a post that is allowed to exist on Facebook is a statement directed at an individual: “We should kill Osama bin Laden.”

“We agree that we can and should do more to prevent the platform from being used to create division and incite violence in the real world,” wrote executive board member Alex Warofka after Facebook facilitated a genocide in Myanmar.

Recently, Facebook’s DIO policy also collided with the Taliban when the US-backed government in Afghanistan was toppled. After the group took control of the country, Facebook banned the Taliban’s presence on the app.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is facing a series of adverse events.

In this case, Facebook not only censored political leadership in a country, but also placed severe restrictions on the public’s right to freedom of discussion. “A commentator might praise the Taliban’s promise of a comprehensive government in Afghanistan on television, but not on Facebook,” Patel said.

Over the last two decades, many people around the world have learned about secret ledgers such as watch lists and no-fly. But with free speech expert Jillian York, Facebook has reached the point where it will not only comply with or copy American policies, but will outgrow them.

“Let’s never forget that no one voted for Mark Zuckerberg, who has never held any other job than CEO of Facebook,” York commented.

Follow Zing/Intercept

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