Extremist Content Online: Facebook Edition

(New York, N.Y.) — The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) reports weekly on the methods used by extremists to exploit Meta-owned Facebook to spread propaganda, recruit followers, and incite violence in order to hold the popular social media platform accountable for its failure to prevent the dissemination of extremist and terrorist content.

This past week, among a sample of nine pro-ISIS Facebook accounts and a Facebook blog, CEP again located a variety of pro-ISIS content ranging from clipped and full-length ISIS propaganda videos to Amaq news videos, photos, and text to an image from the pro-ISIS-K media group al-Azaim Foundation. Among the ISIS content is a clip from the 2017 propaganda video “The Caravan of Light,” depicting the driver of a vehicle carrying an improvised explosive device followed by aerial footage of its explosion. This video alone garnered over 3,000 views and nearly 200 likes and reactions. 

Pro-ISIS Content Located on Facebook

In a sample of nine pro-ISIS Facebook accounts and one Facebook blog located on August 31, CEP researchers found multiple violations of the platform’s policies against terrorist content. CEP found full-length ISIS propaganda videos, clips from ISIS videos, the promotion of ISIS videos, unofficial pro-ISIS videos, Amaq news videos, photos, and text, links to ISIS propaganda on other websites, audio files, and an image from the pro-ISIS-K media group al-Azaim Foundation.

On August 28, one of the accounts posted a clip from an ISIS propaganda video, “The Caravan of Light,” originally released on January 3, 2017. The clip shows footage of the driver of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and shows the explosion from overhead, shot by an ISIS drone. The text on the Facebook post accompanying the clip supported the acts depicted in the video. The video had 181 likes/reactions and over 3,300 views approximately three days after it was uploaded to Facebook. ISIS logos on the top right of the screen were replaced with a Netflix logo.

It is unclear why Facebook’s video hash function or artificial intelligence did not detect the video.

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Clip from the ISIS video “The Caravan of Light” on Facebook. The video was originally released on January 3, 2017. The version located on Facebook on August 31 was uploaded to the website on August 28 and had over 3,300 views within three days. ISIS logos on the top right of the screen were replaced with the Netflix logo.

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The same scene from the ISIS video “The Caravan of Light,” released on January 3, 2017, with the ISIS province logo in the upper right corner.

The nine profiles had between 176 and 3,064 friends or followers, with an average of 954. Two accounts did not have their number of friends or followers listed. The blog had 408 followers. CEP reported the nine accounts and one blog to Facebook on August 31. Approximately 24 hours later, the nine accounts and one blog were still online.

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