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Forbes: Countering Online Extremism Is Too Important To Leave To Facebook
Countering Online Extremism Is Too Important To Leave To Facebook
by Kalev Leetaru
Social media has a complicated history with terrorism. As groups like the Islamic State harnessed the power of social platforms for recruitment, incitement and propaganda, the initial response from Silicon Valley was to refuse government calls to take action in deference to terrorists’ free speech rights. In the face of overwhelming public pressure and threats of new legislation across the world, the Valley made an abrupt about-face and began actively touting its counter-terrorism efforts. Yet, whistle-blower claims that Facebook's counter-terrorism efforts are far from as successful as the company publicly claims and new reporting of just how pervasive and easily discoverable terrorism content is on Facebook reminds us how little we actually know about the success or failure of Silicon Valley’s counter-terrorism efforts.
Facebook has become in many ways the public face of Silicon Valley’s embrace of machine learning and content blacklists to strip terrorist content from its platform.
Yet, the company’s public statements framing its efforts as a tremendous success are at stark odds with its refusal to release even the most basic statistics that might permit external evaluation of its claims.
To date the company has steadfastly refused to release even the most routine of indicators such as its algorithms’ false positive and false negative rates.