A UN human rights
expert has warned that Facebook's definition of what constitutes
“terrorism” is “overly broad” and may lead to governments
suppressing legitimate opposition groups and dissenting voices.
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,” the UN
special rapporteur on protecting human rights and countering
terrorism, Fionnuala Ni Aolain, wrote in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark
Zuckerberg on Monday.
Aolain said in the letter that
defining all non-state groups using violence for a goal as terrorists
could lead to excessive censoring and blocking of access to its
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 said.
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,” Ni Aolain noted.
UN official also voiced concern over lack of clarity about the methods
the social networking service company uses to determine if a person
belongs to a particular group, and if that person has “the opportunity
to meaningfully challenge such determination.”
absence of any independent processes of review, oversight and
monitoring of Facebook’s actions is also highly problematic,” Ni
UN human rights expert commended “the important role Facebook plays in
offsetting terrorist activity online,” but said the social media
company must not unduly interfere in the human rights of its users and
should ensure there is a way to challenge wrong decisions.
media firms are already under UN scrutiny for allowing users to incite
hatred and target minorities.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said last week that
Facebook had allowed its platform to be used to incite violence
against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar, where UN experts say
a military crackdown had “genocidal intent."
Facebook banned Myanmar
military’s commander-in-chief and a number of other pages tied to
the country accused of using the platform to "inflame ethnic
and religious tensions."
government has been under intense pressure over the violent military
crackdown on the Muslim community, which has forced more than 700,000
Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.