Facebook launches UK tool to redirect users away from extremist searches

9 February 2022, 09:04

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Facebook stock. Picture: PA

The Redirect Initiative replaces the top search result in extremist searches with a link to support and guidance.

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 counterspeech update.

The social network has announced the expansion of its Redirect Initiative into the UK, as well as Pakistan, which 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.

According to Facebook, research has shown that challenging violent and extremist views with positive counterspeech is one of the most effective ways to combat such attitudes and uses empathy and alternative perspectives to respond to extremist views.

The tool has already been launched in Australia, the US, Germany and Indonesia and is the latest move by Facebook parent firm Meta to attempt to improve online safety amid ongoing scrutiny on the sector from regulators and policymakers from around the world.

The social media giant said the counterspeech process was most effective when the counterspeech 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,” Exit UK founder Nigel Bromage said.

“At Exit UK, we help people involved in the far-right leave, and we 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.”

Dr Nawab Osman, Meta’s global programmes lead for dangerous individuals and organisations, said: “Counterspeech is just one part of our 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.

“We’ve banned thousands of individuals and organisations across the ideological spectrum under our rules, and we prohibit praise and support of these groups and their leaders on our platforms.

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

By Press Association

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