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#Facebook Use Free #Advertising to Encourage #CounterTerrorism

Monika Bickert - Facebook's global policy manager and the one spearheading this project (via Wall Street Journal)
One of the biggest issues with modern social media is that it's given an overwhelmingly effective platform to modern terrorist groups. We have a rule here at Songbird, we do not report on the activities of ISIL or any other fundamentalist/extremist groups on social media, regardless of how relevant to our output they might be. Groups like theirs depend on notoriety to spread their message and the more their activity gets reported, the further their influence reaches.

Governments have been trying to work with platforms like Facebook and Twitter to muzzle terrorist activity and promotion, but so far it's a losing battle. Facebook might have just dealt a serious body blow with this latest tactic though: offering free ad space to people who engage in 'counter speech'. Counter speech is designed to discredit terrorist content, or flooding it with positivity to shift the balance.

Facebook have offered ad credits worth up to $1000, as well as launching competitions for it in 45 different US colleges, with the aid of the State Department. This could be seen as a continuation from something they did last year with former members of extremist groups - offering them support in creating fake profiles so that they could communicate with current members. Apparently, they found that the dialogue between former and current members lasted a lot longer than they'd expected. There's no clear way of knowing how many current members were convinced of the error of their ways, but even the length of discussions is a positive sign.

In this case, it's more about making sure the message doesn't carry far enough to recruit anybody new, as often fighting negativity with more negativity, in the form of offence or condemnation only serves to strengthen the resolve of the poster. The bigger issue is numbers, there simply are not enough people engaging in counter speech, compared to the tens of thousands of people posting extremist and right wing material on a daily basis, and the millions more people boosting those posts by liking and sharing them. Facebook are hoping to not only balance that out with these incentives, but to make counter speech an almost professional undertaking.



Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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#Facebook Use Free #Advertising to Encourage #CounterTerrorism Reviewed by Callum Davies on Saturday, February 13, 2016 Rating: 5

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