Woman using smartphone - Hero RF

Facebook expands counter-speech initiative to the UK

Image credit: Dreamstime

Facebook and Instagram users in the UK who search for content related to organised hate or violent extremism will now be redirected to resources and support as part of a major counter-speech update.

The social network has announced the expansion of its 'Redirect Initiative' to the UK, as well as Pakistan. It replaces the top search result on hate or extremism-based searches with a link to help and support on how to move away from hate and violence.

Research has shown that challenging violent and extremist views with positive counter-speech is one of the most effective ways to combat such attitudes and use empathy and alternative perspectives to respond to extremist views, according to Facebook.

The tool has already been rolled out in Australia, the US, Germany and Indonesia and is the latest move by Facebook's parent company Meta to improve online safety amid ongoing scrutiny of the sector from regulators and policymakers around the world.

The social media firm said the counter-speech process was most effective when the counter-speech comes from credible voices and so has partnered with charity Exit UK for the UK version of the tool.

“Working in partnership with technology companies like Meta will help ensure the safety and well-being of the public and those that might be vulnerable online,” said Nigel Bromage, founder of Exit UK.

The non-profit charity was founded in 2017 and seeks to support people who want to leave the far-right and also support wider members of the community, many of whom feel they have no one to talk to.

“We understand the importance of offering non-judgmental advice and support so that over time we can help people improve their critical thinking skills and develop positive counter-narratives to challenge hate online,” he said.

Dr Nawab Osman, Meta’s global programmes, lead for dangerous individuals and organisations, said that counter-speech is just one part of the company’s multi-faceted strategy to tackle violent extremism, terrorism and organised hate. “Our policies clearly state that dangerous individuals and organisations themselves have no place on our platforms.”

Osman said Meta has banned thousands of individuals and organisations across the ideological spectrum under their rules and prohibits praise and support of these groups and their leaders on their platforms.

“We have a team of over 350 dedicated specialists and sophisticated proactive detection technology to help us find and remove this content quickly,” he added. “We’ll continue to work with diverse partners around the world to address extremism across society.”

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles