In an effort to combat online extremism, Facebook announced on Thursday that it is testing a feature that will ask users if they are worried someone they know is becoming an extremist.
As part of Facebook’s new Redirect Initiative, users may also be alerted if they have been exposed to extremist content on the platform. Both features will be displayed as pop-up messages that will redirect users to support pages.
The new content warning feature will initially be available in the US.
“This test is part of our larger work to assess ways to provide resources and support to people on Facebook who may have engaged with, or were exposed to extremist content, or may know someone who is at risk,” a Facebook spokeswoman said.
The tech firm is working with non-governmental organizations and academic experts on the project, she added.
The messages include: “Are you concerned that someone you know is becoming an extremist?”
Another says: “You may have been exposed to harmful extremist content recently. Violent groups try to manipulate your anger and disappointment.
“You can take action now to protect yourself and others.”
However, the new feature evoked criticism, with growing concerns that such alerts represent a social media crackdown on politically controversial rhetoric.
Those concerned about Facebook’s attempt to combat extremism include Republican politicians in the US, such as Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert and Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, who took to Twitter to voice their criticism.
“Facebook just warned me that I may have been subjected to extremist content and asked me to report anyone I may know that is becoming an extremist,” said Boebert. “I have more than 200 coworkers I need to report.”
While Massie sarcastically wrote: “One of my moderate Democrat friends told me long ago, back when there were moderate Democrats, ‘the definition of an extremist is someone who is completely consistent.’”
He added: “I plead guilty as charged by Facebook this week.”
In May, Facebook also launched a campaign to take stronger action against people who repeatedly share misinformation on the platform.
Source: Arab News