Shocking but Not Surprising: New Reports Show Facebook Acting With Impunity As Extremist Content, Guns Imperil Communities and Users Worldwide
RFOB Reacts to Two New Major Research Studies: “If a Nation Has a Weakness, It Will Be Exploited and Weaponized on Facebook’s Platforms”
15 June — The Real Facebook Oversight Board today condemned Facebook/Meta’s failures to act and to adequately moderate content revealed by two stunning reports today.
A major study from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue showed that extremists including ISIS and al-Shabaab have thousands-strong networks which they openly use to target Kenyans on Facebook platforms. The report,“Under-Moderated, Unhinged and Ubiquitous: Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State Networks on Facebook” revealed multiple extremist accounts; Facebook only acted to shut down accounts after the AP contacted them for comment.
Experts are concerned the networks can easily reconstitute themselves on Meta platforms if not vigorously monitored.
This is a failure of accountability. Facebook is intentionally underinvesting in content moderation in Africa, leaving people in danger. If the presence of a well known terrorist network operating in plain view on public pages is not caught in their product safety net, then it is clear they have no net at all. That is not a problem that can be solved by vigilant civil society and researchers — it should be a matter of corporate accountability.
Separately, a report in The Guardian based on new research from Media Matters for America showed that guns, weapon parts and ammunition are widely available for sale on Facebook and Instagram, new research shows, as experts say Meta is not doing enough to stop deadly weapons getting into the wrong hands. Meta policy bans the same of these weapons, but the research shows users can purchase materials from unregulated sources to build high-powered, automatic weapons in just a few clicks.
Taken together, these reports are shocking but not surprising: Facebook continues to act with impunity as extremist content, access to weapons and a toxic cocktail of the two imperil users, communities and democracies worldwide. If a Nation Has a Weakness, It Will Be Exploited and Weaponized on Facebook’s Platforms.
We urge independent, external oversight and scrutiny of Facebook to address these metastasizing crises.
Real Facebook Oversight Board members are available for interviews. Statements do not reflect the individual positions of all Real Facebook Oversight Board Members. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.