Social media platforms fail to control anti-Muslim posts: report
On March 15, 2019, a 28-year-old gunman named Brenton Harrison Tarrant, broke into two mosques – the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Center – located in New Zealand and began shooting indiscriminately at people who came there. attend Friday prayers. He ended up killing 51 people and injuring 40.
Shockingly, the murder was streamed live on social media giant Facebook. Prior to the attacks, Brenton posted an online manifesto, which is now banned in New Zealand and Australia.
Investigations revealed that Brenton was heavily influenced by online hate crime content that vilified Muslims.
After the attack, social media giants Meta, Twitter and Google said in a joint press release that they pledged their support for Christchurch’s call to remove terrorist and violent extremist content online.
However, nothing has been done so far and the content continues to spread lies and fake news about minorities such as Muslims, Jews and black people.
A recent report from the Center for Counseling Digital Hate (CCDH), a US-based international non-profit organization that studies the algorithm of online hate and misinformation, shows that social media companies like Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, Twitter and Youtube took no action on 89% of posts containing anti-Muslim hate and Islamophobic content they flagged.
The CCHR report says it uncovered 530 posts containing anti-Muslim content that was bigoted, dehumanizing, racist and contained false allegations, but very little action was taken. Additionally, the content was viewed 25 million times, the majority of which was easily identifiable using hashtags such as #deathtoislam, #islamiscancer, etc.
The platforms did not act
Of the 89% of anti-Muslim hateful content, only 11.3% was acted upon.
- 4.9% of the affected messages were deleted.
- 6.4% of the assignment account was removed.
- None resulted in messages receiving warning labels.
YouTube did not act on the 23 videos flagged by CCHR. Twitter failed to act on 97% of anti-Muslim hate reported to them. According to the CCHR, this is the worst performance among the other four platforms.
Facebook failed to act on 94% of the content while Instagram failed to act on 86% of the content. Tik Tok had the best results taking action on 64% of flagged content.
Content platforms failed to act
To investigate the social media platform‘s actions on anti-Muslim hateful content, CCHR tagged various posts and found:
- Content platform failed to act on racist caricatures of Muslims
- They did not act on posts that inherently show Muslims to be evil
- They failed to attack posts that compared Islam to a disease like cancer.
- They did not respond to messages describing ordinary Muslims as terrorists.
- They did not act on posts that portray Muslim migration as “an invasion” with hashtags such as #Eurabia #Islamification etc.
- They have not responded to publications that denounce Love Jihad.
- They did not respond to messages suggesting that Muslims “behave secularly” when they are in the minority but turn into aggressors when they are in the majority.
Promoting the “Great Replacement Conspiracy” Theory
The conspiracy theory “The Great Replacement” was first popularized by French writer Renaud Camus. He claimed that the immigration of non-whites was being used as a policy to induce “genocide by surrogacy”. That is, Europeans were being replaced by non-white immigrants, especially Muslims.
His theory is widely embraced by “white supremacy” and several extremists have cited this theory in their justification of the massacres. The Christchurch Mosque murders were heavily influenced by this theory.
The CCHR report says social media giants failed to remove content and videos that promote the Great Replacement theory, fueling nearly 19 million views.
Hashtags used for anti-Muslim hate
Hashtags are used to easily access any content. Therefore, when hashtags are misused, it can cause a wide range of hate and fake news. For platforms, hashtags direct to content, engage users, and serve ads, thereby generating revenue.
According to the CCDH, “This report analyzes Instagram posts containing hashtags such as #deathtoislam, #islamiscancer and #stopislamization. Instagram’s own analytics show that these hashtags were used in 131,365 posts on the platform.
For example, Instagram has not responded to the above post that suggests Muslims have a “plan” to establish “Sharia.” The post was shared using hashtags such as #saveindia, #fuckislam, #stopislam and #stopislamization. Allowing such hashtags can be harmful to the Muslim community around the world.
Host pages and groups that spread hate
The CCHR revealed that Facebook has pages and groups dedicated to spreading anti-Muslim hatred online. The report states that collectively they have 3,61,922 subscribers. A few THINGS about Islam, Christian Defense League – United States, ISLAM means terrorism, Aussies proud against halal, strange death of islam, cancer of civilization exposed etc are some of the many pages provided by the CCHR report where hate propaganda is being spread and no action has been taken. None of these pages have been removed by Facebook.
When the Christchurch shooting occurred, a joint statement from the Big tech was signed which stated that they would protect and save the Muslim community from violent extremist content. The report states that for all social media platforms, the “report” button is their first line of defense. But time and time again it has been proven wrong.
The CCHR mentions that when users click the “Report” button, not much happens. Indeed, social media platforms benefit greatly from advertisements. Therefore, the content – positive or negative – that accompanies advertisements generates revenue and therefore platforms rarely bother to spread hate and propaganda.
Finally, the report recommends removing hateful and anti-Muslim, racist or anti-minority content, generating more transparency and abolishing fake news, assuming responsibility and accountability, hiring moderators to controlling online hate, banning Facebook hate groups, anti-Muslim hashtags, and more robust, easily accessible and responsive complaint systems.