Facebook Expands Definition of Terrorist Organizations to Limit Extremism

In a letter on Tuesday to Representative Max Rose of New York, the chairman of the subcommittee on intelligence and counterterrorism of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Facebook also said it was “blocking links to places on 8chan and 4chan that are dedicated to the distribution of vile content.” That includes all content from 8chan’s notorious /Pol board, a page known for trafficking in violent, racist speech.

That site has been offline since after the El Paso shooting, in which 22 people were killed. Fredrick Brennan, one of the 8chan’s founders, had said after the shooting that the site should be shut down. The owner of 8chan, Jim Watkins, testified before lawmakers in a closed-door hearing this month.

“We’ve seen terrorists post 8chan links to Facebook in an effort to bring widespread attention to mass shootings, which is why I’m encouraged to see Facebook’s willingness to work with me and ban those links,” Mr. Rose said. “We all need to do more to combat the spread of terrorism and keep our communities safe — Congress, tech companies, everyone.”

Inside Facebook, the company has additionally been developing an oversight board — colloquially referred to by outsiders as the Facebook Supreme Court — for more than a year. The company said on Tuesday that the board would be made up of a “diverse” set of experts, each serving for a three-year term, with a maximum of three terms of service.

Members will oversee and interpret how Facebook’s existing community standards are enforced by its content moderators, can instruct Facebook to allow or remove content, and will be asked to uphold or reverse designations on content removals. Members will also issue “prompt” written explanations for any decisions.

“Building institutions that protect free expression and online communities is important for the future of the internet,” Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said in a statement. “We expect the board will only hear a small number of cases at first, but over time we hope it will expand its scope and potentially include more companies across the industry as well.”


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