What level of responsibility do social media platforms play in the world of terror?

How easy would it be to share information without social media

If social media wasn't available, how easy would it be for those with radical intentions to spread hate and violence around the world?

"They have embraced the web, terrorists are now able to hide their identities using encryption tools which were once only available to government agencies."

- Head of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan

Responsibility

Do social media companies need to play a bigger role in maintaining the content which is being spread? I say yes, it should be more than just relying on their users to report content. They have moral and social responsibility to ensure they are following their own safety guidelines. Are they taking this problem seriously?

Algorithms

Algorithms can effectively be out in place to advertise product to us, why does it appear to be easier to sell us makeup, shoes, cars and clothes, but not to detect hateful content? If a mainstream newspaper or magazine published hateful content, there would be consequences, a public outcry and disgust, possibly arrests made.

Currently social media platforms, who allow their members to post hateful content are not being held accountable for their part.

Related Article: United in a Social Media Crisis

"We work aggressively to ensure that we do not have terrorists or terror groups using the site, and we also remove any content that praises or supports terrorism.” - Facebook spokesman Andrew Souvall

Facebook have a policy in place to delete terror related propaganda from feeds and have blocked many accounts.

"Of all the companies, Facebook are the leader and the best at removing content" - Steve Stalinsky, executive director of Middle East Media Research

Twitter on the other hand have a wider problem, research from the Brookings Institute reported ISIS supporters had approximately 46,000 twitter accounts between September and December 2014. Not all were active at the same time.

Social-media monitor Recorded Future found that Isis had succeeded in creating hype with a total of 700,000 accounts discussing the terrorist group. - Source

Historically Twitter has not been as active as Facebook in dealing with terrorist related posts, but that all changed when content of journalist James Foley’s beheading spread and since then a substantial number of accounts have been suspended, and Between August 2015 and December 2016 Twitter suspended 636,248 accounts linked to terrorism.

There are however some critics of Twitters strategy against extremists.

"It’s not that Twitter isn’t removing accounts. The company does suspend high profile ones, but the people who run shut down accounts quickly crop back up with new ones. If Twitter were serious, they’d use the proper technology to get them to not come back"

- Steve Stalinsky, executive director of Middle East Media Research.

Freedom of Speech Freedom of speech is right that all of us are entitled to, but with freedom of speech comes responsibility and rightly so, social media companies have incorporated this into their guidelines and polices (see below). But what more can they do to manage this issue. As social media has played a role in shaping our personal lives, politics and law, do those same social media platforms now need to change their own strategies and polices to keep up with our ever changing world?

Social Media Guidelines and Terms of Use

FACEBOOK

Safety Terms and Conditions You will not post content that: is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence. You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.

TWITTER

Content Boundaries and Use of Twitter Violent threats (direct or indirect): You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism. Hateful conduct: You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.

YOUTUBE

It's not acceptable to post violent or gory content that is primarily intended to be shocking, sensational or disrespectful. If you post graphic content in a news or documentary context, please provide enough information to help people understand what's going on in the video. Don't encourage others to commit specific acts of violence. Our products are platforms for free expression However, we don't support content that promotes or condones violence against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status or sexual orientation/gender identity, or whose primary purpose is inciting hatred on the basis of these core characteristics. This can be a delicate balancing act, but if the primary purpose is to attack a protected group, the content crosses the line.

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