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HomeGlobal Perspective & Critical ResearchRevealed: Facebook’s Secret Blacklist Of “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations”

Revealed: Facebook’s Secret Blacklist Of “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations”

Author: Sam Biddle

Affiliation: American technology journalist at The Intercept

Organization/Publisher: The Intercept

Date/Place: October 12, 2021/USA

Type of Literature: Opinion Article

Word Count: 2693


Keywords: Facebook, Facebook’s DIO policy, Al Aqsa Mosque, BuzzFeed News.


Facebook since long has stripped users from expressing freely about people and groups it says promote violence. The limitations trace back to 2012, when in the face of growing alarm in Congress and the United Nations about claimed online terrorist enlistment, Facebook added to its Community Standards a ban on “organizations with a record of terrorist or violent criminal activity.” This modest rule has since extended into what’s known as the Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy (DIO), a comprehensive set of boundaries on what Facebook’s nearly 3 billion users can say about an enormous and ever-growing roster of entities deemed beyond the pale. But as with other attempts to limit personal freedoms in the name of counterterrorism, the list is overwhelmingly Islamophobic and a reflection of US-centric policies. It is built atop a blacklist of over 4,000 people and groups, including politicians, writers, charities, hospitals, hundreds of music acts, and long-dead historical figures. Lately, Facebook’s DIO policy hit the Taliban’s newly established government in Afghanistan—when the Taliban resumed control of the country, Facebook declared the group as banned from having a presence on its apps. Facebook now finds itself in the position of not just censoring an entire country’s political leadership but placing serious constraints on the public’s ability to discuss or even merely depict it. In May, Facebook deleted a variety of posts by Palestinians attempting to document Israeli state violence at Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, because company staff mistook it for an unrelated organization on the DIO list with “Al-Aqsa” in its name (of which there are several), judging from an internal memo obtained by BuzzFeed News. Last month, Facebook censored an Egyptian user who posted an Al Jazeera article about the Al-Qassam Brigades, a group active in neighboring Palestine, along with a caption that read simply “Ooh” in Arabic. Al-Qassam does not appear on the DIO list, and Facebook’s Oversight Board wrote that “Facebook was unable to explain why two human reviewers originally judged the content to violate this policy.” While the past two decades have inured many the world over to secret ledgers and laws like watchlists and no-fly bans, Facebook’s privatized version indicates that “we’ve reached a point where Facebook isn’t just abiding by or replicating U.S. policies but going well beyond them.” “We should never forget that nobody elected Mark Zuckerberg, a man who has never held a job other than CEO of Facebook.”

By: Maryam Khan, CIGA Research Associate



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