News & Politics

Here's What You Need to Know About Facebook's Sneaky Campaign to Root Out 'Extremism'

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Conservatives have long warned about Big Tech companies censoring speech that strays from the leftist narrative, but on Thursday, Facebook launched a more proactive — and terrifying — campaign against “extremism.” It seems the company is notching up its invasive surveillance to the “Orwellian” level.

“Are you concerned that someone you know is becoming an extremist?” one notification asks. “We care about preventing extremism on Facebook. Others in your situation have received confidential support.”

The notification includes an “i” for information icon featuring the message “How you can help: Hear stories and get advice from people who escaped violent extremist groups.”

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Another notification warns users that they “may have been exposed to harmful extremist content.”

“[Name], you may have been exposed to harmful extremist content recently,” Facebook warns some users. “Violent groups try to manipulate your anger and disappointment. You can take action now to protect yourself and others.”

The “i” icon encourages users to “get support from experts. Spot the signs, understand the dangers of extremism and hear from people who escaped violent groups.”

The information icon links to a web page on the Facebook Help Center. The page only loads for specific users. If one of the users who received the “extremism” notification shares the link with another user who did not, the second user will be unable to access the page. “This feature isn’t available to everyone right now,” the page explains.

Facebook extremism
Facebook screenshot.

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A source provided PJ Media with screenshots of the exclusive page.

“Violent groups can be very persuasive,” Facebook warns on the Help Center page. “They often use feelings of fear, anger and disappointment to further their cause and get others to join them.”

Facebook warns users that “people have lost friends, family members and jobs because they were manipulated into owning violent extremist groups.”

The page lists two “common arguments” from “extremist groups”: “Violence is the only way to achieve change,” and “Minorities are destroying the country.”

Facebook informs selected users that “violence often makes things a lot worse,” that “researchers have shown that peaceful movements are more successful than violent ones,” that “violence is against the law,” and that people choose to leave extremist groups due to violence. Facebook uses a white supremacist as an example.

As for minorities, Facebook argues that “there are amazing benefits to diversity.” The Help Center page quotes George Washington, who said he hoped that America “might become a safe and agreeable Asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind.” The page also provides statistics about Jewish people.

Facebook extremism
Facebook screenshot.
Facebook extremism
Facebook screenshot.
Facebook extremism
Facebook screenshot.

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Finally, Facebook reveals the source of these “extremism” warnings. “We have partnered with Life After Hate, a nonprofit that provides support to anyone who wants to leave hate behind and solve problems in nonviolent ways. You can reach out to Life After Hate confidentially,” the page explains.

Facebook extremism
Facebook screenshot.

Facebook did not respond to PJ Media’s request for comment, but a company spokesperson, Andy Stone, told CNN that the notifications are part of the platform’s Redirect Initiative, which aims to combat violent extremism.

“This test is part of our larger work to assess ways to provide resources and support to people on Facebook who may have engaged with or were exposed to extremist content, or may know someone who is at risk,” Stone told CNN. “We are partnering with NGOs and academic experts in this space and hope to have more to share in the future.”

“Life After Hate” sounds positive enough. It aims to help people leave far-right groups, particularly white supremacist groups. People who leave violent white racist groups should find a haven — but Life After Hate focuses on the far Right while ignoring the far Left. Life After Hate responded to the Capitol riot, calling it “domestic terrorism cultivated over many years,” but it did not mention the deadly and destructive riots spearheaded by antifa and Black Lives Matter agitators last summer. In fact, as the riots began, Life After Hate insisted that “black and brown people can not expect equal treatment under the law” and blamed “the racist system” for “the powder keg we face today.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which routinely brands mainstream conservative and Christian organizations “hate groups” and lists them alongside the Ku Klux Klan, routinely cites and praises Life After Hate.

None of this should disqualify Life After Hate — the organization does play an important role in combatting white supremacist groups. However, the organization only focuses on one kind of extremism, and Facebook should not just partner with one side of these issues.

Thanks to the nefarious impact of Marxist critical race theory, activists, authors, and teachers have condemned “whiteness” and white people as inherently oppressive — sometimes even as psychopaths. Recently, a black Amazon driver violently attacked a white woman who had been waiting for her package and who scoffed when the black driver told her to “check her privilege.”

Certain fringe groups on the far Right do indeed pose a threat of violence and Life After Hate does good work in countering that kind of extremism. But the SPLC demonstrates how leftist groups use terms like “extremism” and “hate” to demonize conservatives who have nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan or Atomwaffen Division. Big Tech companies like Facebook had a documented bias against conservatives long before they kicked Donald Trump off their platforms.

Indeed, the Department of Defense under President Joe Biden is taking steps to root out “extremism,” and whistleblowers inside the military claim the DOD is pushing critical race theory (CRT) materials in the name of fighting “extremism.” Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended teaching CRT in the military and repeated CRT propaganda against the Constitution.

The DOD has not defined the “extremism” it aims to expunge from the ranks, but a working definition sent to Army Recruiting Command — and first reported by PJ Media’s Stacey Lennox — provided an ominous portent for conservatives in the military. The definition of extremism included “hatred or intolerance on the basis of race, sex (including gender identity), sexual orientation, or ethnicity” and “creating or engaging in discrimination based on race, color, sex (including gender identity), national origin, religion, and sexual orientation.”

Conservatives should all condemn hate, of course. Yet recent history shows how terms like “intolerance” and “discrimination” regarding sexual orientation and gender identity can be weaponized against those who disagree with LGBT activism. The saga of Jack Phillips, the Christian baker who has faced state prosecution and private lawsuits for refusing to bake custom cakes celebrating a same-sex wedding and a gender transition, illustrates how the Left weaponizes claims of “discrimination.”

According to the Biden administration, the “discrimination” that fits the second part of the Army recruiting definition of “extremism” would apply to one person who refers to biological males who identify as female with male pronouns, who advocates for excluding biological males from women’s sports, or who warns against the abuses of subjecting gender-confused children to chemical castration, among other things.

The Biden campaign against domestic terrorism appears slanted against conservatives.

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In this context, Facebook’s warnings against “extremism” seem particularly chilling. Facebook may not intend to target conservatives with this initiative — after all, the platform assured PJ Media that it does not agree with the SPLC’s defamatory “hate group” accusations against mainstream conservative groups. Yet the initiative does focus on the far Right while ignoring the far Left, and the notifications — even if well-intentioned — come off as extremely creepy.

Americans don’t need Facebook to tell them what “extremism” is, or to encourage them to distrust their fellow Americans.