A UN human rights expert urged Facebook to narrow its “sweeping” definition of terrorism to stop governments arbitrarily blocking legitimate opposition groups and dissenting voices.
Fionnuala Ní Aoláin wrote to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg saying Facebook wrongly treats all non-state groups that use violence in pursuit of any goals as terrorist entities.
“The use of such a sweeping definition is particularly worrying in light of a number of governments seeking to stigmatize diverse forms of dissent and opposition (whether peaceful or violent) as terrorism,” wrote Ní Aoláin, UN special rapporteur on protecting human rights while countering terrorism.
Ní Aoláin, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and at the University of Ulster’s Transitional Justice Institute in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism.
The special rapporteur is appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council, and reports to the council and the General Assembly on alleged violations of human rights and other freedoms in the global drive to prevent terrorism. The rapporteur also identifies and promotes good policies and practices.
In a July 24 letter to Zuckerberg, Ní Aoláin expressed concern with “the overly broad definition of terrorism and terrorist organizations used by Facebook as well as the seeming lack of a human rights approach to content-moderation policies.” She cited Facebook’s community standards and an April 23 blog post by two top company officials on how the network uses technology and its “counterterrorism team” to find and remove terrorist propaganda.
Ní Aoláin tweeted a report filed by justsecurity.org with comment, "Why Facebook's definition of terrorism needs greater attention"