Terrorist Recruiting Through Facebook

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By Nick O'Neill Comment

Yesterday over at The Social Times I wrote a post on how gangs are recruiting youth through social networks. It seems our friends across the pond (the Atlantic) are having a similar problem but with extremist Muslim groups instead. Today the Edinburgh Journal is running a story about creating jihads through Facebook.

The story, by Miles Johnson, claims that the banned Al Muhajiroun extremist group has been operating a private Facebook group that is being used to spread hate. The group has several British students as members and even included employees at the financial services company Citigroup.

The group has posted links to extremist propaganda written by jailed authors. I am not certain what the laws are in England, but in the US much of these writings would be classified as hate speech. Hate speech is not protected by freedom of speech because it incites direct action and propagates violence.

It will be interesting to see how British authorities handle this situation. Will the government see being part of a Facebook group as an actual affiliation? If the government decides to pursue this case, it could set some interesting precedent for Facebook.

Think about it like this: If the British government decides to say that joining a Facebook group is the same as joining an extremist group in the real world, it may cause a great deal of people to take a moment of pause when deciding what Facebook groups they join.

What if you joined a Facebook group that was labeled illegal by the government, should you face criminal charges? Should the government consider digital affiliation the same as physical? I don’t know. We see a great deal of change in the laws regarding digital rights and digital representation. I guess this is just one more example of laws having to play catch up.

Do you think the government should actively pursue banning certain Facebook groups?