UN Human Rights Council independent expert, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin in a statement on Monday said that Facebook needs to narrow its “sweeping” definition of terrorism to stop governments arbitrarily blocking legitimate opposition groups and dissenting voices.
She wrote to the social media giant chief Mark Zuckerberg, expressing concern about the company’s efforts to block “terrorists” from using its platform.
“The use of overly broad and imprecise definitions as the basis for regulating access to and the use of Facebook’s platform may lead to discriminatory implementation, over-censoring and arbitrary denial of access to and use of Facebook’s services,” she stated.
She pointed out that the definition equates all non-state groups that use violence in pursuit of any goals or ends to terrorist entities. The social media giant has policies prohibiting terrorists from using its services. To find and remove objectionable content, it uses detection technology and a number of moderators.
“The use of such a sweeping definition is particularly worrying in light of a number of governments seeking to stigmatise diverse forms of dissent and opposition — whether peaceful or violent — as terrorism,” Aolain said.
“The definition is further at odds with international humanitarian law as it qualifies all non-state armed groups party to a non-international armed conflict as terrorists, even if these groups comply with international humanitarian law,” she stated.
She expressed her concern over methods determining if a person belongs to a particular group, and if that person has “the opportunity to meaningfully challenge such determination” lacking clarity.
“The absence of any independent processes of review, oversight and monitoring of Facebook’s actions is also highly problematic,” she said.