Facebook tests feature offering resources for those worried about 'extremist' friends

Facebook tests feature offering resources for those worried about 'extremist' friends
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Facebook is testing out several types of notifications to users in an initiative aimed at tackling violent extremism.

The notifications either ask a user if they’re concerned that they may know an extremist or simply notify the user that they may have been exposed to extremist content. Screenshots of both circulated on Thursday.

According to Reuters, Facebook said the small test, which is being conducted in the U.S. on its main platform, was a pilot that would ultimately be used globally to prevent extremism on Facebook.

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"This test 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," said a Facebook spokesperson in an emailed statement to Reuters. 

In one notification, Facebook asks users: “Are you concerned that someone you know is becoming an extremist?”

The message says the company cares about preventing extremism and that “Others in your situation have received confidential support.”

A “get support” button appears underneath the message, and the alert sends a user to its support page, according to CNN.

In another notification, Facebook notifies a user that they may have been exposed to “harmful extremist content.”

According to a screenshot of this notification by an actual Facebook user, the message goes on to say that “Violent groups try to manipulate your anger and disappointment. You can take action now to protect yourself and others.”

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A “get support” button also appears underneath the message.

Facebook said it was working with nonprofits organizations and academic experts in the pilot test.

Facebook has been criticized for not doing enough to combat extremism on its platform.

The top Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee had written a letter in February to Facebook saying the social media giant needed to do more to address misinformation and extremism on its platform.

“The Committee is deeply concerned about dangerous and divisive rhetoric thriving on Facebook’s platform and is considering legislation to address these issues. From conspiracy theorists peddling false information to extremist voices urging and organizing violence, Facebook has become a breeding ground for polarization and discord,” the Democrats wrote in a letter

The Hill has reached out to Facebook for comment.