Facebook auto-generation tech still being used to boost Islamic State, al Qaeda: complaint

Facebook auto-generation tech still being used to boost Islamic State, al Qaeda: complaint
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New details from an updated complaint expected to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) suggest that Facebook's auto-generation technology is continuing to be used to boost extremist groups such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

The nonprofit National Whistleblower Center's updated complaint accuses Facebook of having provided a tool allowing dozens of pages to be produced that promote or represent the two extremist groups. The update was first reported by The Associated Press.

The filing states that nearly 200 auto-generated pages reference the Islamic State while dozens more point to al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. The AP reported that the nonprofit plans to file the update to its complaint this week.


The report comes as members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee were slated to question representatives from a number of social media platforms on Wednesday including Monika Bickert, who is in charge of Facebook’s attempts to curtail extremist messaging.

“Our priority is detecting and removing content posted by people that violates our policy against dangerous individuals and organizations to stay ahead of bad actors,” a Facebook spokesperson told the AP. “Auto-generated pages are not like normal Facebook pages as people can’t comment or post on them and we remove any that violate our policies. While we cannot catch every one, we remain vigilant in this effort.”

In its efforts to solve the issue, the social media giant says it has banned 200 white supremacist groups and removed 26 million pieces of content that relate to groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

National Whistleblower Center Executive Director John Kostyack said he wasn't convinced by the company's numbers. The center filed the SEC complaint earlier this year, alleging that the company has exaggerated its success at curtailing extremist content online.

“Facebook would like us to believe that its magical algorithms are somehow scrubbing its website of extremist content,” Kostyack told the AP. “Yet those very same algorithms are auto-generating pages with titles like ‘I Love Islamic State,’ which are ideal for terrorists to use for networking and recruiting.”