Friday 9 December 2016

Facebook gives free advertising to anti-terrorism advocates

Madhumita Murgia

Published 16/02/2016 | 08:25

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook has a new plan to fight Islamic State recruiting and hate speech online - it will offer free advertising to users who fight terrorism, by speaking out against terrorist propaganda.

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According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Facebook will provide advertising credits of up to $1,000 (£688) to counter-terror and hate speech activists such as German comedian Arbi el Ayachi, who released a video disputing anti-Muslim sentiments from a Greek right-wing group.

This strategy is part of a larger drive known as "counter speech"  where Facebook will incentivise users who actively fight extremist views with Facebook posts, photos or likes. 

Facebook is  apparently also working with the US State Department and consultancy firms to get university students to participate in counter-speech competitions, given a budget of $2,000 and $200 ad credits each.

The social network's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, backed this idea when speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, despite the fact there is no academic evidence to support it. She said a group in Germany called "Laut gegen Nazis", an anti-neo nazi group, had attacked the Facebook page of the far-right NDP by getting members to like and post on the page.

"They launched a 'like attack' on the Facebook page of the NPD," she said.

"Rather than scream and protest, they got 100,000 people to like the page, who did not like the page and put messages of tolerance on the page, so when you got to the page, it changed the content and what was a page filled with hatred and intolerance was then tolerance and messages of hope.

"The best antidote to bad speech is good speech and the best antidote to hate is tolerance."

The technology community has been under increasing pressure to to fight online propaganda from terrorist outfits such as Isil, particularly in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks in November last year. 

In February, Twitter joined the anti-terror movement by suspending 125,000 accounts linked to the Islamic State, among other terror groups. 

Similarly, Google has started combating extremism by showing anti-radicalisation advertising links to would-be jihadis, or their supporters, who type extremist keywords into the search engine. Senior google executive Dr Anthony House told the Commons’ home affairs select committee that Google had removed 14 million YouTube videos in 2014 for reasons including terrorist content. He said: "We are working on counter-narratives around the world." 

Telegraph.co.uk

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