UN expert to Facebook: Narrow ‘sweeping’ definition of terrorism

UN expert to Facebook: Narrow ‘sweeping’ definition of terrorism
© Greg Nash

A United Nations (U.N.) expert wrote in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergChina may be copying Facebook to build an intelligence weapon Facebook announces verification to images and video on platform Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless MORE that Facebook should reduce its “sweeping” definition of terrorism, according to Reuters.

Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, U.N. special rapporteur on protecting human rights while countering terrorism, reportedly told Zuckerberg that Facebook incorrectly defines all nonstate groups that use violence as terrorists.

She wrote that Facebook’s current definition of terrorism doesn’t take into account rebel groups that follow international humanitarian law, according to Reuters. 

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“The use of such a sweeping definition is particularly worrying in light of a number of governments seeking to stigmatize diverse forms of dissent and opposition (whether peaceful or violent) as terrorism,” Ní Aoláin wrote.

Ní Aoláin wrote that Facebook’s definition of terrorism could lead to “discriminatory implementation, over-censoring and arbitrary denial of access to and use of Facebook’s services.” She wrote Facebook plays an important role “in offsetting terrorist activity online” but added that it shouldn’t violate the human rights of its users.

Ní Aoláin also wrote that it’s not clear how Facebook determines that a person belongs to a given group.

“It is unclear how Facebook determines when a person belongs to a particular group and whether the respective group or person are given the opportunity to meaningfully challenge such determination,” she wrote.