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.

Within the last week, among a sample of 10 Facebook accounts, CEP identified a wide variety of content in direct violation of the site’s policy regarding extremist content. Like weeks past, this included pages from ISIS magazines and publications, other photographic propaganda, and segmented as well as full-length ISIS propaganda videos.

The extremist and terrorist content found by CEP researchers on Facebook are clear violations of the platform’s terms of service, yet it often fails to be removed. CEP encourages Facebook to take concrete action regarding the misuse of its site, including by providing Meta’s Oversight Board with access to any and all information related to its inquiry; bringing on external experts with core computer science skills, such as U.C. Berkeley professor and CEP Senior Advisor Dr. Hany Farid, onto the Oversight Board; and integrating Oversight Board members onto its corporate board. Meta is responsible for the extremist content on its platforms, and it must begin to act as such.

Pro-ISIS Content Located on Facebook

In a sample of pro-ISIS content on Facebook located on September 7, CEP found 10 Facebook accounts that posted a variety of full ISIS propaganda videos, segments taken from videos, Amaq footage, pages taken from ISIS’s Rumiyah magazine and the weekly al-Naba news publication, and photo propaganda. Five of the 10 accounts had between 1 and 1,860 friends or followers, with an average of 728. Five accounts had an unlisted number of friends or followers.

CEP located two full-length ISIS videos. The first, “Makers of Epic Battles 6,” from ISIS’s self-proclaimed West Africa province, was originally released on April 6, 2022, and uploaded to Facebook the same day. Approximately five months later, the video had 649 views and was shared 94 times. Facebook removed the video approximately five minutes after CEP reported it. The second video from ISIS’s self-proclaimed India state, “Jihad of the Believers Continues #8,” was released on March 25, 2022, and uploaded to Facebook on July 29. The video had 92 views on September 7.  CEP reported the video to Facebook on September 7, but it was still online approximately 48 hours later.

eco fb_090922

The ISIS video “Jihad of the Believers Continues #8” on Facebook. Screenshot taken on September 8.

One of the Facebook accounts uploaded a photo of a young child estimated to be between the ages of four and eight, taken from a notorious ISIS video released on January 8, 2017. The video shows the child committing an execution of a civilian with a handgun. While the photo, uploaded to Facebook on April 1, did not show explicit violence, the photo was taken from a particularly disturbing ISIS execution video.

It is unclear why Facebook’s hashing system or artificial intelligence did not detect the various ISIS videos or photos.

CEP reported all 10 accounts to Facebook on September 7. All were still online 48 hours later. The two videos were reported separately. One was removed within 48 hours.

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On September 23, 2021, the Houthis began a siege on Marib’s al-Abdiyah district, sparking a humanitarian crisis as the rebels blocked medical and other humanitarian aid. Aid workers on the ground accused the Houthis of committing genocide by denying access to humanitarian organizations and shelling hospitals and other vulnerable civilian targets.   

View Archive

CEP on Twitter