Thousands of Isil extremists hook up with each other by using Facebook's 'suggested friends' service
Facebook has helped introduce thousands of Isil extremists to one another, via its 'suggested friends' feature, it can be revealed.
The social media giant - already under fire for failing to remove terrorist material - is now accused of actively connecting jihadists around the world, allowing them to develop fresh terror networks and recruit new members.
Researchers, who analysed the Facebook activities of 1,000 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant supporters in 96 countries, discovered users with radical Islamist sympathies were routinely introduced to one another by the suggested friends feature.
Using sophisticated algorithms, Facebook connects people who share interests. The site automatically collects personal information, which is used to direct people toward others they might wish to connect with. But without effective checks on what information is shared, terrorists are able to exploit the site to contact and communicate with supporters.
The extent to which the feature is helping Isil members on Facebook is shown in a new study, the findings of which will be published in a Counter Extremism Project report this month.
Report author Gregory Waters described how he was bombarded by suggestions for pro-Isil friends, after making contact with one active extremist on the site.
Fellow researcher Robert Postings was inundated with friend suggestions for dozens of extremists within hours of clicking on non-extremist news stories about an Islamist uprising in the Philippines.
Mr Waters said: "This project has laid bare Facebook's inability or unwillingness to efficiently address extremist content on their site. The fact that its own algorithm is directly facilitating the spread of this terrorist group on its site is beyond unacceptable."
A Facebook spokesman said: "There is no place for terrorists on Facebook. We work aggressively to ensure that we do not have terrorists or terror groups using the site, and we remove any content that praises or supports terrorism. We have and will continue to invest in people and technology to identify and remove terrorist content."