Facebook Messenger used to quarrel extremism

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Facebook Messenger has been used to try to deradicalise extremists in a commander plan saved wholly by a company.

People posting impassioned far-right and Islamist calm in a UK were identified and contacted in an try to plea their views.

Of a 569 people contacted, 76 had a review of 5 or some-more messages and 8 showed signs it had a certain impact, researchers claim.

Privacy campaigners contend it means Facebook is deviate into surveillance.

Technology companies have been urged to do some-more to stop nonconformist element littering their sites following a array of cases involving people who were radicalised online.

This commander was led by a counter-extremism organization Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), that says it was perplexing to impersonate extremists’ possess recruitment methods.

It told a BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme and BBC World Service’s World Hacks it used program to indicate several far-right and Islamist pages on Facebook for targets. It afterwards manually looked during their profiles looking for instances of violent, dehumanising and horrible language.

Terrorism survivors

It employed 11 “intervention providers” – possibly former extremists, survivors of terrorism or lerned counsellors, who were paid £25 per hour for 8 hours’ work a week.

One was Colin Bidwell, who was held adult in a Tunisia apprehension conflict in 2015.

Under a feign profile, he spoke to people who seemed to support Islamist extremism, including some who might support a Tunisia gunman, and was tasked with severe their views with talkative review and questions.

“I consider I’m entitled to ask those questions after what I’ve been through,” he explained. “If there’s a smallest possibility that we could make some form of disproportion or awareness, for me I’m in.”

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Colin Bidwell was held adult in a Tunisia apprehension conflict in 2015

Many did not respond, though some entered into prolonged conversations. Mr Bidwell would speak a tiny about religion, about a outcome a conflict has had on his mother and how he worries for a destiny of his children in “such a aroused world”.

“One of a things we would contend is, ‘You can have your impassioned beliefs, though when it gets to a impassioned assault – that’s a bit we don’t understand’,” he said.

Other involvement providers would use opposite strategy depending on their credentials – a former nonconformist targeted immature women revelation them she used to consider like they did, though that assault was not a answer.

‘Back from a edge’

Roughly half a people they chose to try and discuss with had showed support for Islamist extremism and half had far-right sympathies. The organization was also separate uniformly between group and women.

The aim was to “walk them behind from a edge, potentially, of violence”, pronounced Sasha Havlicek, a arch executive of a ISD.

“We were perplexing to fill a unequivocally large opening in responses to online recruitment and radicalisation and that opening is in a approach messaging space.

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Sasha Havlicek believes approach messaging can be used to opposite extremism

“There’s utterly a lot of work being finished to opposite ubiquitous promotion with counter-speech and a dismissal of content, though we know that extremists are really effective in approach messaging,” she explained.

“And nonetheless there’s no systematic work being finished to strech out on that approach rendezvous basement with people being drawn into these groups.”

Privacy campaigners are endangered about a project, generally that Facebook saved something that pennyless a possess manners by formulating feign profiles.

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Millie Graham Wood says any posts found compelling extremism should have been taken down

Millie Graham Wood, a barrister during a Privacy International charity, said: “If there’s things that they’re identifying that shouldn’t be there, Facebook should be holding it down.

“Even if a organization [ISD] itself might have been concerned in doing investigate over many years, that does not meant that they’re competent to lift out this arrange of… notice role.”

‘Really authentic’

Facebook saved a beginning though would not divulge how most it had spent. It pronounced it did not give ISD special entrance to a users’ profiles.

Its open process manager, Karim Palant, pronounced a association does not concede a origination of feign profiles – that a plan relied on – and pronounced that a investigate was finished but Facebook interference.

“The investigate techniques and accurately what they did was a matter for them,” he said.

During conversations, a involvement providers did not proffer a fact that they were operative for a ISD, unless asked directly. This happened 7 times during a project, and on those occasions a review ended, infrequently after a row.

Overall, of a 569 people contacted, researchers explain 8 of a people contacted showed signs, in a conversations, of rethinking their views.

Despite a tiny numbers involved, a ISD disagree a commander showed online counter-extremism conversations can make a difference.

It wants to now try how it could be stretched both in a UK, and overseas, and how a identical process could be used on platforms such as Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter.

Watch a BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and a BBC News Channel.