Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says the company strongly believes the best way to combat ISIS propaganda is to “counter speech” by the online community. While speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, Sandberg said “a ‘like’ attack” is one source of inspiration for the digital war against ISIS.
Facebook “like” – a weapon to tackle ISIS
Islamic extremism has become a major concern for Silicon Valley tech companies, which are now open combatants in the war against terrorism. Islamic State terrorists make regular use of online sources for recruiting, and tech executives are discussing publicly what their companies could do to stop that.
A closed-door meeting took place about two weeks ago between America’s most senior security staff and law enforcement officials, and leading Silicon Valley executives joined in too. The meeting was held to discuss how the online recruiting efforts of ISIS could be fought.
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Sandberg explained how Facebook users in Germany bombarded a neo-Nazi page with “likes” and then posted positive messages on the page. This helped transform a page full of hatred and intolerance into one with tolerance and messages of hope.
“The best thing to speak against recruitment by Isis are the voices of people who were recruited by Isis, understand what the true experience is, have escaped and have come back to tell the truth … Counter-speech to the speech that is perpetuating hate we think by far is the best answer,” Facebook COO said.
Tech firms overcoming fears to combat ISIS
Jared Cohen, Alphabet’s director of Google Ideas, also discussed efforts to force ISIS agents to go off the public Internet.
“It could be where we can see greater short-term wins,” Cohen said.
Many U.S. officials, lawmakers and politicians have complained that tech firms are not doing enough to keep online civilians away from terrorists. Last month, Donald Trump made a statement that he wanted to talk to Microsoft founder Bill Gates about closing the Internet in some places to stop ISIS.
Even though tech firms are showing support in the fight against terrorism, many are often nervous about “confronting the issue publicly,” says The Guardian. Many tech firms are even afraid of regulating content posted on their site. However, the recent comments from Sandberg and Cohen do suggest that such concerns are on a decline.