Facebook says it wants ‘to be a hostile place for terrorists’

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As Facebook continues to face criticism over how it handles terrorist propaganda, the company is detailing its process for countering radicalization and other threats.

Facebook said in a blog post today that most accounts removed for terrorism-related activity are uncovered by the company itself, and that it’s using artificial intelligence to find more threats. “We are currently focusing our most cutting edge techniques to combat terrorist content about ISIS, Al Qaeda and their affiliates, and we expect to expand to other terrorist organizations in due course,” company representatives write.

Those techniques include image-matching for terrorist photos and videos, and detecting “clusters,” where terrorist content is posted across related accounts. Facebook says it’s also built new techniques for shutting down repeat offenders.

But the company included new information about its human efforts as well. Most notably, Facebook disclosed that it has more than 150 people “exclusively or primarily focused on countering terrorism as their core responsibility,” including people from counterterrorism academia and law enforcement.

Facebook also mentioned its partnerships with government and industry, noting that it works with NGOs and others to stem the tide of terrorist propaganda. “We want Facebook to be a hostile place for terrorists,” the blog post reads. “The challenge for online communities is the same as it is for real world communities — to get better at spotting the early signals before it’s too late.”

The post is the first in a series Facebook announced this morning called “Hard Questions,” which the company says will explain the company’s work on controversial issues.

How the company deals with terrorism certainly fits. Facebook, along with others, has been unsuccessfully sued for allegedly creating spaces for terrorists to operate in. In a recent speech, British Prime Minister Theresa May said internet companies had created a “safe space” for violent ideology “to breed.” Both France and the UK said this week that they were considering fining tech companies “that fail to take action” against terrorist propaganda.

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