October 4, 2022 | Yahoo News

Facebook’s autogenerate feature is creating business pages for extremists

The same technology that is used to generate Facebook pages through unique user information (job title, business, interest or location) is giving extremists more visibility and freedom on Facebook. In a new article for Yahoo News, ISD’s Executive Director for AMEA, Moustafa Ayad, explains how Islamist extremists are some of the beneficiaries of this longtime feature.

“There are a number of different networks that spread Islamist terrorist content, whether it’s al-Qaida or Islamic State, in a number of different languages across Facebook at a given time,” said Moustafa.

He pointed out that one of the more recently popular strategies used by these networks is to hack into the accounts of existing Facebook users and update their public profile information so it says things like: “I work for the Islamic State” and therefor triggering the autogenerate feature, and creating a business page at the other end of that sentence.

“This is the platform itself creating, essentially, meeting spots, like locus points for terrorist supporters to gather… [and] enabling terrorists to spread content and narratives farther,” he said. “In terms of being able to confront the issue of online terrorist [activity], that’s a big problem.”

White nationalist extremists and Islamist extremists have been found to benefit from these autogenerate havens with many of the pages staying online for years, only to be taken down when brought to Facebook by external checkers.