For immediate release | Thursday, August 30, 2018

Zuckerberg’s 99% Myth Exposed: Latest Facebook PR Campaign Ignores Extremist Content Found Online

Press Contact:

Media at CEP

Claims of Content Moderation Success Undercut by Readily Accessible Terrorist Content

In recent days, Facebook has trumpeted its efforts and success in disrupting influence campaigns undertaken by foreign actors. For some, this represents a change in public relations tactics from the company’s “defensive” nature. And while the company should be commended for taking proactive steps, it is once again not enough. When organizations such as the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) can readily identify instances of how ISIS continues to exploit Facebook to host meetings, link to terrorist propaganda and organize on the popular social media platform, it is clear that the company still has its work cut out for them.

CEP will hold Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg responsible until they remove extremist content and accounts that are the worst of worst and violate the company’s terms of service. On Thursday, CEP identified an active one-week-old post of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s recent speech calling for attacks against the west on Facebook. In Europe, the Nordic Resistance Movement, an “openly anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant and anti-gay” hate group have been using websites such as Facebook to further spread their propaganda. Lastly, documents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service identified “attacks by extremists inspired over the internet have become the country’s top terrorist threat.”

In addition to Baghdadi, CEP found additional instances of extremist content on Facebook as well.  A one-month old propaganda video from the banned neo-Nazi group National Action, shows one of the group’s leaders condemning immigration and non-white British culture, and calling for unspecified action to preserve white Britain. Two videos from ISIS are particularly brutal and violent. One shows combat between ISIS and Iraqi security forces including several corpses of Iraqi soldiers.  Another depicts several child soldiers, including one (approximately 12-15 years old) executing an accused spy. There is also an execution by throat cutting.

To read more about this issue and see the aforementioned examples, as well as other examples of extremist content, please see the background below.

EXTREMIST FACEBOOK CONTENT

1. Notorious National Action Propaganda Video On Facebook

  • Located on Facebook: August 29, 2018
  • Time on Facebook: Approximately one month
  • Views: N/A, one like, one share
  • URL: Link
  • Description: A propaganda video from the banned neo-Nazi group National Action, in which one of the group’s leaders condemns immigration and non-white British culture and calls for unspecified action to preserve white Britain. MP Yvette Cooper, chair of the UK Home Affairs Committee had previously attacked Google / YouTube over their failure to keep this video off their platforms.

2. ISIS Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Speech On Facebook

  • Located on Facebook: August 29, 2018
  • Time on Facebook: One week
  • Views: 836, 17 likes/reacts, six shares
  • URL: Link
  • Description: ISIS leader Baghdadi’s speech “Give Glad Tidings to the Patient,” released on August 22, 2018.  In the speech, Baghdadi states that ISIS, unlike other Sunni groups in Syria, never surrendered, and urges members of the opposition to join them.  He additionally called for the overthrow of the Saudi government and specifically called for attacks in the West, especially vehicular attacks on crowds.

3. ISIS Video On Facebook For Two Weeks With Over 1,100 Views

  • Located on Facebook: August 29, 2018
  • Time on Facebook: Approximately two weeks
  • Views: 1,100+, 93 likes/reacts, 80 shares
  • URL: Link
  • Description: The ISIS video “Al Ramadi: Graveyard of the Enemies,” originally released on May 23, 2015.  The video shows combat between ISIS and Iraqi security forces including several corpses of Iraqi soldiers.  This version of the video has Indonesian subtitles.

4. ISIS Video “The Flames Of War II” On Facebook For One Week

  • Located on Facebook: August 29, 2018
  • Time on Facebook: Approximately one week
  • Views: three, one like/react
  • URL: Link
  • Description: ISIS video “The Flames of War II: Until the Final Hour,” released on November 29, 2017, via the group’s Al Hayat Media Center.  The video, at almost an hour long, serves as a motivational video for the terror group by encouraging ISIS fighters and attempting to inspire overseas attacks.  In additional to numerous quotes from Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the video features numerous beheadings, shootings and an immolation.

5. ISIS Video On Facebook Featuring Teenage Executioner With Over 600 Views

  • Located on Facebook: August 29, 2018
  • Time on Facebook: Four days
  • Views: 635, 30 likes/reacts, 14 shares
  • URL: Link
  • Description: The ISIS video “It Is Those Who are the Truthful: Coverage of the Life of Emigrants from East Turkestan,” originally released on February 27, 2017.  The video consists of Uyghur ISIS fighters threatening China and the al-Qaeda aligned Turkestan Islamic Party.  It includes several child soldiers, including one (approximately 12-15 years old) executing an accused spy.  There is also an execution by throat cutting.

BACKGROUND

Facebook Has Recently Been Trumpeting Its Success In Shutting Down “Influence Operation[s]” By Foreign Countries On Its Website. “An apparent Iranian influence operation targeting internet users worldwide is significantly bigger than previously identified, Reuters has found, encompassing a sprawling network of anonymous websites and social media accounts in 11 different languages. Facebook and other companies said last week that multiple social media accounts and websites were part of an Iranian project to covertly influence public opinion in other countries. A Reuters analysis has identified 10 more sites and dozens of social media accounts across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.” (Jack Stubbs & Christopher Bing, “Exclusive: Iran-Based Political Influence Operation – Bigger, Persistent, Global,” Reuters, 8/28/18)

Alliance For Securing Democracy At The German Marshall Fund Director Rosenberger Stated That This Was A “Change” From Facebook’s Defensive PR Tactics. “Laura Rosenberger, director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at The German Marshall Fund, said Facebook is taking the ‘right approach’ by isolating ‘coordinated inauthentic behavior,’ adding, ‘To date, the response from companies has often been defensive and focused on PR – I hope this represents a change.’” (Cristiano Lima, “Facebook Gets Out In Front Of The Storm,” Politico Morning Tech, 8/1/18)

The Nordic Resistance Movement Has Been Using Social Media To Spread Its Hate Propaganda. “During a brisk Sunday last spring, three men dumped a pile of rubbish on the doorstep of an apartment complex in the northern Danish city of Aalborg. The target was Aalborg municipality environment and energy councillor Lasse P. N. Olsen, who lives in the building. A note posted above the trash explained waste was collected from the municipality and demanded politicians clean up more litter. But it wasn’t an environmental protest. The men yelled anti-immigrant phrases and brandished the Nazi salute while dropping the trash, Olsen’s neighbours told him later. The note was signed ‘Den Nordiske Modstandsbevægelse.’ In English: The Nordic Resistance Movement … The Nordic Resistance Movement, or NMR, is a neo-Nazi organisation originally founded in Sweden that is openly anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant and anti-gay. Their goal is to create an ethnically pure pan-Nordic nation, according to the group’s website, and to deport most non-ethnic Northern European residents and dismantle the ‘global Zionist elite’ … Social media has also allowed the group’s message to spread further and connect the group with white nationalist organisations around the world, [Counter Extremism Project Senior Research Analyst Josh] Lipowsky added.” (Karis Hustad, “'Most Radical Organisation': Neo-Nazi Group Seeks To Gain Ground In Nordic Countries,” Euronews, 8/25/18)

Canadian Security Intelligence Service: “The Greatest Terrorist Threat Is From Extremists Who Are Inspired, Enabled Or Directed By Others Online.” “Attacks by extremists inspired over the internet have become the country’s top terrorist threat, according to a declassified Canadian intelligence document obtained by Global News. ‘The greatest terrorist threat is from extremists who are inspired, enabled or directed by others online,’ said the Canadian Security Intelligence Service document released under the Access to Information Act. Titled Terrorism in the Digital Age, the CSIS document named al-Qaida and mentioned the transition from ‘the physical Caliphate to a virtual one,’ an apparent reference to the so-called Islamic State.” (Stewart Bell, “Online-Inspired Extremists Are ‘The Greatest Terrorist Threat,’ Declassified CSIS Document Says,” Global News, 8/23/18)