The social network Facebook launched a campaign to alert its users who have seen or visited pages that the company considers ‘extremist’ or have a friend within their profile who has done something similar. Criticism rained down on Facebook because all the people who received the notification are journalists or conservative or right-wing personalities.
According to CNN social media analyst Oliver Darcy, Facebook confirmed to him that the campaign, called the Redirect Initiative, “is part of our larger work to assess ways to provide resources and support to people on Facebook who may have engaged with or were exposed to extremist content, or may know someone who is at risk.”
However, the campaign has already generated controversy since the users who saw the message are all conservative or considered right-wing.
According to Daily Mail, several conservative users such as Newsmax TV host John Cardillo, House Delegate Nick Freitas and Alex Berenson shared screenshots of the alerts they received on Twitter.
Facebook’s message reads, “Are you concerned that someone you know is becoming an extremist? We care about preventing extremism. Others in your situation have received confidential support.”
“How can you help. Listen to stories and get advice from people who escaped violent extremist groups.”
Another user, posted the notification on Twitter as well:
“Jacob, you may have been exposed to harmful extremist content recently.”
“Violent groups try to manipulate your anger and disappointment. You can take action now to protect yourself and others.”
On its ‘help’ button Facebook redirects its users to a group called ‘Life after hate’ which on its front page shows photos of the January 6 incidents on Capitol Hill.
“Get support from experts”, reads another notification. “Spot the signs, understand the dangers of extremism and hear from people who escaped violent groups.”
An RT reporter, Rachel Blevins, complained on Twitter as well.
Although the program Redirect Initiative, kicked off in the United States, it is expected to have a global reach. If this were the case, Facebook would become a sort of ‘Supreme Arbiter’ that will decide in different countries, with different types of government systems and different social backgrounds, who is ‘extremist’ and who is not.
According to the British media report, the Californian company uses an algorithm that identifies ‘keywords’ in its users’ searches. However, Facebook refuses to provide which words it is using to identify ‘extremists.’
Some users reflected their anger at the realization that only those users with conservative posts were targeted.
One user mocked the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter
If Facebook can deploy a ‘safety’ campaign of such a scale that it will be able to warn every user who visits conservative pages or posts, then the company must answer to the world why for several years running it remains the leading sex trafficking platform where even minors are tricked by their predators and subjected to sexual exploitation while claiming that it ‘does everything possible’ to eradicate it.