In 2012, the internet was witnessing a bubble of terrorist organizations that recruited members virtually. To combat this, Facebook decided to deny access to its social network to any “organization with a history of terrorism or violent criminal activities.” In order to have a good foundation, the company created a blacklist with those organizations.
Nine years later and debates aside, the evolution of this list covers more than 4,000 groups considered hateful and has been used to slow down the spread of content during crucial moments like the assault on the capitol last January (even Donald Trump himself was banned). In it there are musicians, writers, politicians … and now we can see it in its entirety thanks to a leak from The Intercept.
Criticize or inform yes, defend and praise no
The list, which you can consult here, is not something you can read in a while over coffee. It’s a hundred pages full of people and organizations deemed dangerous by Facebook. It is classified by terrorist, criminal or hate entities or individuals and the origin of each of them is included.
A glance at the list allows you to see Islamic State terrorists, drug cartel criminals … and we can also locate the terrorist gang ETA (mentioned as Freedom). From Spain we can also see on pages 29 to 31 some musical bands that apologize for Nazism.
In another leaked document we can see how Facebook allows such groups to be discussed “neutrally or critically”, but not to praise them or spread their content in a “positive” way. The social network also agrees that it is possible to speak positively of violent actors as long as they are not part of administrations, “unless they mention explicit references to violence.” The dissemination of related news, humor or messages of doubts regarding specific historical events is also allowed (they use the concrete example of ‘The number of deaths caused by Stalin has been exaggerated’).
The Intercept points to specific parts of the list as “Bogaloo”, considered a movement of the extreme right and described by Facebook as a “militarized social movement”. Brian Fishman, Facebook’s Director of Counterterrorism and Terrorist Policies, has sent us the following statement clarifying that the social network does not disparage these organizations:
“We have rules that prohibit terrorists, hate groups and criminal organizations from using our platform, and we remove content that praises, represents or supports those organizations as soon as we find it. To enforce these rules we have a group of more than 350 specialists focused on remove those organizations from our platforms and monitor potential emerging threats. We banned hundreds of organizations including more than 250 white supremacist groups under these rules, and update the list as new threats emerge. “
On a Twitter thread, Fishman also clarifies that leaked list “is not understandable” as it is constantly updated and is not published for security reasons. The executive “does not condone” filtration, as it “makes everything more difficult.” At the same time, he comments that the list is not perfect, and that they will use everything they can learn to improve Facebook as a platform.
Imagen | Dawid Sokolowski