Facebook has promised the House Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism that it will ban certain links to message boards 4chan and 8chan, amid a shakeup of its rules around “hate and extremism.”
In a letter on Tuesday to Representative Max Rose of New York, the chairman of the subcommittee on intelligence and counterterrorism of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Facebook also said it was “blocking links to places on 8chan and 4chan that are dedicated to the distribution of vile content.” That includes all content from 8chan’s notorious /Pol board, a page known for trafficking in violent, racist speech.
8chan is a decentralized message board that allows users to anonymously create discussion boards to discuss any First-Amendment protected topic. It has attracted increasing public attention in recent years due to the fact that a number of mass shooters have anonymously posted their plans on the website.
The site is a spinoff of 4chan, a site that has incubated several important political movements including the “Anonymous” hacktivist and protest group. Originally dedicated to the discussion of manga and anime, the site has since attained wide cultural influence, with its users popularizing internet memes like “rickrolling” and “Pepe the Frog.”
More recently, news of millionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s death was anonymously posted on 4chan approximately 40 minutes before any mainstream journalist reported it.
In an announcement, Facebook also indicated it had expanded the focus of its counter-terrorism team to include any organization engaged in “real-world harm,” citing a rise in “white supremacist violence” as the prime motivating factor.
Previously, the team was solely focused on counterterrorism — identifying a wide range of organizations including white supremacists, separatists and Islamist extremist jihadists as terrorists. Now, the team leads our efforts against all people and organizations that proclaim or are engaged in violence leading to real-world harm. And the team now consists of 350 people with expertise ranging from law enforcement and national security, to counterterrorism intelligence and academic studies in radicalization.
This new structure was informed by a range of factors, but we were particularly driven by the rise in white supremacist violence and the fact that terrorists increasingly may not be clearly tied to specific terrorist organizations before an attack occurs, as was seen in Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
Facebook also pledged to use artificial intelligence to better detect and remove terrorist content. The social network has been criticized for its failure to speedily take down videos of mass shootings.
The company also said it had banned “more than 200 white supremacist organizations” under its definition of terrorist and hate organizations.
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Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.