June 15, 2022 | AP News

Facebook fails to identify terrorist content threatening East Africa

Our recent report documenting the unmoderated spread of terrorist content on Facebook in East Africa is featured by AP News. In this two-year investigation, we find evidence that Facebook has failed to stop the amplification of Islamic State and local al-Shabaab content targeting the region; one that remains under threat from violence and is heading into a highly contested election in Kenya. These posts were found to be openly calling for violence in Swahili, Somali and Arabic, sometimes even carrying official al-Shabaab branding, and framing government officials— including the US government— as enemies of Muslims.

“The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab has been described as the deadliest extremist group in Africa, and it has carried out high-profile attacks in recent years in Kenya far from its base in neighboring Somalia”, the AP writes.

One of the report authors, ISD’s Executive Director for Africa, the Middle East and Asia (AMEA), Moustafa Ayad, spoke with AP about the effects this kind of content has on the public: “They chip away at that trust in democratic institutions”.
He further questioned Facebook’s moderation strategies. “Why are they not acting on rampant content put up by al-Shabab? You’d think that after 20 years of dealing with al-Qaida, they’d have a good understanding of the language they use, the symbolism”.

This news wire was also featured on the New York Post, Voice of America, and more.