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How Effective is Technology in Keeping Terrorists Off Facebook?

By Monika Bickert, Vice President of Global Policy Management at Facebook, and Brian Fishman, Global Head of Counterterrorism Policy

The democratizing power of the internet has been a tremendous boon for individuals, activists, and small businesses all over the world. But bad actors have long tried to use it for their own ends. White supremacists used electronic bulletin boards in the 1980s, and the first pro-al-Qaeda website was established in the mid-1990s. While the challenge of terrorism online isn’t new, it has grown increasingly urgent as digital platforms become central to our lives. At Facebook, we recognize the importance of keeping people safe, and we use technology and our counterterrorism team to do it.

We define a terrorist organization as: “Any non-governmental organization that engages in premeditated acts of violence against persons or property to intimidate a civilian population, government, or international organization in order to achieve a political, religious, or ideological aim.”

While our metrics remain in development, today we want to provide updated data about our enforcement against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and their affiliates in the first quarter of 2018.

  • We’re removing more content. In Q1 we took action on 1.9 million pieces of ISIS and al-Qaeda content, about twice as much from the previous quarter. (“Taking action” means that we removed the vast majority of this content, and added a warning to a small portion that was shared for informational or counter speech purposes. This number likely understates the total volume, because when we remove a profile, Page or Group for violating our policies, all of the corresponding content becomes inaccessible; but we don’t go back through to classify and label every individual piece of content that supported terrorism.)
  • We find the vast majority of this content ourselves. In Q1 2018, 99% of the ISIS and al-Qaeda content we took action on was not user reported. In most cases, we found this material due to advances in our technology, but this also includes detection by our internal reviewers. There is also a small percentage of content where people report a profile, Page, or Group — and we don’t remove the entire profile, Page or Group because as a whole they do not violate our policies, but we do remove specific content within them that’s in breach of our standards. The Q1 2018 figure aligns with the figure we released in November, but we have evolved how we calculate this figure, most importantly by including content that is re-shared in the calculation.
  • We take down newly uploaded content quickly. Content uploaded to Facebook tends to get less attention the longer it’s on the site — and terrorist material is no different. As we have improved our enforcement, we’ve prioritized the work to identify newly uploaded material. In Q1 2018, the median time on platform for newly uploaded content surfaced with our standard tools (including both user reports and content we find ourselves) was less than one minute.

Read more at Facebook

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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