How Facebook’s “Suggested Friends” Feature Helps ISIS Expand Its Terror Network


The social media companies like Facebook and Twitter have been repeatedly blamed for acting as a platform that can be exploited for spreading extremist propaganda. In a related development, the researchers have found that Facebook’s “suggested friends” feature has been used to introduce thousands of ISIS members to each other.

It’s a well-known fact that Facebook does its best to keep you tracking all the time, even if you’re not a Facebook user. Using that data, it serves you ads, news feed content, friends suggestion, etc. It has been found that often ISIS members are introduced to each other via the suggestions features.

The findings of this research will be published later this month by Counter Extremism Project. Talking to The Telegraph, Gregory Waters, one of the chief authors of the report, has described how Facebook has repeatedly failed to curb extremism on its platform.

“This project has laid bare Facebook’s inability or unwillingness to efficiently address extremist content on their site,” Waters said.

Even after six months of finding nearly 1,000 ISIS-supporting Facebook profiles, more than half of those accounts remain active. In many cases, Facebook continues to allow the profile even after identifying and removing offending posts.

In a surprising case, one British terror suspect was able to reinstate his account nine times even after being accused of sharing ISIS videos. In another case, an Indonesian ISIS supporter was able to influence a non-Muslim user in New York and turn him into a radicalized Muslim supporting ISIS.

In a statement, Facebook has defended the steps it’s taking. “We remove any content that praises or supports terrorism,” the company said. However, it maintains that there is no easy technical fix to fight online extremism with 100% accuracy.

Also Read: Facebook Is Actively Looking Into Launching A Paid Version: Report
Adarsh Verma

Adarsh Verma

Fossbytes co-founder and an aspiring entrepreneur who keeps a close eye on open source, tech giants, and security. Get in touch with him by sending an email — [email protected]
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