A UN report discusses how Facebook can be used for terrorism

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released a report this week on how terrorists are using new platforms like Facebook:

Terrorists are increasingly turning to social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread propaganda, recruit sympathizers and plot potential attacks, a United Nations’ report released Monday says.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime said Internet-based social platforms are fertile, low-cost grounds for promotion of extremist rhetoric encouraging violent acts, with terrorists able to virtually cross borders and hide behind fake identifies…

The University of Waterloo sociologist said networks like Facebook are effective tools to screen potential recruits, who could then be directed to encrypted militant Islamic websites affiliated with al-Qaida, for example.

Check out what the full report says about Facebook. Here is the first mention of Facebook (p.4):

The promotion of extremist rhetoric encouraging violent acts is also a common
trend across the growing range of Internet-based platforms that host user-generated
content. Content that might formerly have been distributed to a relatively limited audience, in person or via physical media such as compact discs (CDs) and digital video discs (DVDs), has increasingly migrated to the Internet. Such content may be distributed using a broad range of tools, such as dedicated websites, targeted virtual chat rooms and forums, online magazines, social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and popular video and file-sharing websites, such as YouTube and Rapidshare, respectively. The use of indexing services such as Internet search engines also makes it easier to identify and retrieve terrorism-related content.

The second mention (p.11):

Particularly in the age of popular social networking media, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and blogging platforms, individuals also publish, voluntarily or inadvertently, an unprecedented amount of sensitive information on the Internet. While the intent of those distributing the information may be to provide news or other updates to their audience for informational or social purposes, some of this information may be misappropriated and used for the benefit of criminal activity.

And that’s about it when it comes to specifics about Facebook in report. One case involving Facebook was cited specifically but the bulk of the terrorist activity appeared to happen on other websites. On one hand, officials say they will continue to monitor Facebook. On the other hand, Facebook is one popular website, among others, where Internet users can interact.

I imagine Facebook as a company is also interested in this and its too bad they didn’t respond, at least not to Bloomberg Businessweek:

Spokespeople at Facebook, Google and Twitter didn’t immediately return phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

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