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 ZuckerbergPrivacy groups accuse Facebook of deceiving children into spending parents' money Pinterest blocks all vaccine-related searches in effort to combat anti-vax content Hillicon Valley: Kremlin seeks more control over Russian internet | Huawei CEO denies links to Chinese government | Facebook accused of exposing health data | Harris calls for paper ballots | Twitter updates ad rules ahead of EU election 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. 


“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.