Sunday, September 25, 2022

Study: Facebook fails to capture East Africa extremist content

A new study has found that Facebook has failed to capture the Islamic State group and al-Shabab extremist content in postings targeting East Africa, as the region is threatened by violent attacks and Kenya ready to vote in a careful national election.

An Associated Press series last year, based on leaked documents shared by a Facebook whistleblower, showed how the platform has repeatedly failed to act on sensitive content, including hate speech in many places around the world.

The new and unrelated two-year study by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue found that Facebook posts openly support IS or Somalia-based Al-Shabab – even those who carry Al-Shabab brands and demand violence in languages ​​including Swahili , Somali and Arabic – allowed to be widely shared.

The report expresses particular concern about narratives related to the extremist groups who accuse Kenyan government officials and politicians of being enemies of Muslims, who make up a significant part of the East African nation’s population. The report points out that “xenophobia against Somali communities in Kenya has long been widespread”.

Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab has been described as the deadliest extremist group in Africa, and it has carried out high-profile attacks in Kenya in recent years, far from its base in neighboring Somalia. The new study found no evidence of Facebook posts planning specific attacks, but the authors and Kenyan experts warn that allowing even general calls for violence is a threat to the forthcoming presidential election in August.

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Concerns about hate speech surrounding the vote, both online and off, are already increasing.

“They are breaking away from that trust in democratic institutions,” report researcher Moustafa Ayad told the Associated Press of the extremist postings.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue found 445 public profiles, some with duplicate accounts, sharing content linked to the two extremist groups and tagging more than 17,000 other accounts. Among the narratives shared were accusations that Kenya and the United States were enemies of Islam, and among the posted content was praise by al-Shabab’s official media arm for the killing of Kenyan soldiers.

Even when Facebook pages were declining, they would quickly be redesigned under different names, Ayad said, describing serious decay by both artificial intelligence and human moderators.

“Why are they not acting on the basis of the unbridled content posted by al-Shabab?” he asked. “You would think that after 20 years of dealing with al-Qaeda, they would have a good understanding of the language they use, the symbolism.”

He said the authors discussed their findings with Facebook and some of the accounts were removed. He said the authors also plan to share the findings with Kenya’s government.

Ayad said both civil society and government bodies such as Kenya’s National Counter-Terrorism Center should be aware of the problem and encourage Facebook to do more.

Asked for comment, Facebook requested a copy of the report prior to its publication, which was denied.

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The company then responded with an email statement.

“We have already removed a number of these pages and profiles and will continue to investigate as soon as we have access to the full findings,” Facebook wrote Tuesday, giving no name, citing security concerns. “We do not allow terrorist groups to use Facebook, and we remove content that praises or supports these organizations when we become aware of it. We have specialized teams – which include Arabic, Somali and Swahili speakers – dedicated to this endeavor. ”

Concerns about Facebook’s content monitoring are global, critics say.

“As we have seen in India, the United States, the Philippines, Eastern Europe and elsewhere, the consequences of failure to post content posted by extremist groups and supporters can be deadly, and can push democracy over the edge. said the watchdog The Real Facebook Oversight Board said of the new report, adding that Kenya is currently a “microcosm of all that is wrong” with Facebook owner Meta.

“The question is, who should ask Facebook to act and do its job?” asked Leah Kimathi, a Kenyan consultant in governance, peace and security, who suggested that government bodies, civil society and consumers could all play a role. “Facebook is a business. The least they can do is make sure that anything they sell to us does not kill us. ”

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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