Removing extremist groups from social media is an effective way of destroying their fan bases, according to a study by the Global Research Network on Terrorism and Technology. As the National reports, the researchers found that radical groups do not necessarily thrive on alternative platforms once they have been removed from the mainstream. “When Facebook removed far-right group Britain First, it had 1.8 million followers on the site and was the second most-liked Facebook page in the politics and society category in the UK, after the Royal Family. The group reformed on Gab, which is a popular alternative site for far-right groups, and now only has 11,181 followers.” This represents an enormous loss of followers and reach for the group, the report said. “As well as a collapse in online engagement, the ban from major social media platforms has left Britain First without a gateway to a larger pool of potential recruits, or the ability to signpost users to sites such as Gab.” The paper, called “Following the whack-a-mole: Britain First’s visual strategy from Facebook to Gab”, was written by researchers at Swansea University. It says mainstream social media companies should continue to remove extremist groups that breach their terms of service, and that banning groups from major platforms is effective because it reduces the ability of groups to point followers to more extreme content and limits their pools of potential recruits. It calls on the UK and US governments to work towards better relationships with newer, smaller and fringe platforms so content can be regulated on these sites. In April, the British government launched a white paper on online harm, which sought to make the directors of social media companies personally accountable for the behaviour of users. Read more
Social Media Can Combat Extremist Groups – Report
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