Social media platforms don't remove nearly 90% of Islamophobic content - report

5/10/2022 7:04 PM
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A new report shows that social media companies fail to remove anti-Muslim and Islamophobic content 89% of the time.

The nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) said the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok are not acting on the anti-Muslim misinformation and hate speech content reported to them.

CCDH reported 530 posts that had been viewed over 25.5 million times but only one out of ten posts were taken down by the platforms.

The posts had anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, dehumanising and negative depictions of Muslims, racist caricatures and sectarian Hindu nationalist hate speech.

The group said much of the content was easily identifiable and added that Instagram, TikTok and Twitter allows users to use hashtags such as #deathtoislam, #islamiscancer and #raghead. Content spread using those hashtags received at least 1.3 million impressions.  

It accused Facebook of hosting groups who are solely dedicated to promoting anti-Muslim hatred despite promising this type of content would be banned.  

Last year, a whistleblower released documents that showed how Facebook did not stop hate speech and calls to violence against Muslim communities in Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Not doing enough to stop Islamophobic speech  

CEO and founder of CCDH Imran Ahmed said press releases by the social media giants, following the Christchurch attacks on Muslims, to do more to stop hatred and extremism on their platforms were "nothing more than empty promises."

"When social media companies fail to act on hateful and violent content, they know there is a significant threat of offline harm," Ahmed says in the report.

"Anti-Muslim hate seeks to dehumanize and marginalize communities of people who have historically been the subject of violent threats, attacks, discrimination, and hostility.

"Enabling this content to be promoted and shared on platforms without effective interventions and consequences, further endangers these communities by driving social divisions, normalizing the abusive behavior, and encouraging offline attacks and abuse.

"Worse still, platforms profit from this hate, gleefully monetizing content, interactions, and the resulting attention and eyeballs. For them, hate is good business."

Findings from the report

Here is a summary of some of the findings from the report.

  • CCDH researchers found 530 social media posts containing anti-Muslim hatred. Collectively, these posts were viewed at least 25.5m times.
  • Posts were identified in February and March 2022 from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.  
  • 89% of posts containing anti-Muslim hatred were not acted upon by social media companies.
  • Instagram, TikTok and Twitter allow users to use hashtags such as #deathtoislam, #islamiscancer and #raghead. Content spread using the hashtags received at least 1.3 million impressions.  
  • Platforms fail to act on 89% of posts promoting the Great Replacement conspiracy theory which claims Muslims are working to ‘replace’ white people in the West. This conspiracy featured prominently in the ideology behind the Christchurch Mosque attacks in New Zealand and the Tree of Life synagogue attacks in Pennsylvania.
  • Facebook is hosting pages and groups dedicated to promoting anti-Muslim hatred with a total of 361,922 followers or member
  • Researchers found 20 posts glorifying the terrorist behind the Christchurch massacre or featuring footage of the attack, with platforms not acting in 70% of cases.
  • Earlier reports by CCDH have shown platforms have similarly failed to act on antisemitism, anti-black racism, misogynist abuse and dangerous vaccine misinformation.  

CCDH is urging people to sign a petition and demand Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube to take swift action and to stop 'profiting' from anti-Muslim hate on their platforms.