Oct 7, 2019

How death threats spread in pro- and anti-Brexit Facebook groups

A BBC investigation has found that several of the most popular and influential closed Facebook groups about Brexit - both for and against - are filled with violent language, including dozens of death threats aimed at individual MPs. Facebook says it does not allow hate speech, and is investigating the material found by the BBC.What did the posts say? Unlike in open or "Public" groups, posts in closed "Private" Facebook groups can only be seen by approved members. In August, Facebook changed the name of "Closed" groups to "Private" groups. In practice, this means a greater emphasis on closed spaces such as private groups or Facebook Messenger rather than on public groups or the public News Feed. Last year's yellow vest protests in France were largely organised in closed Facebook groups, meaning authorities knew very little about them until they suddenly turned violent, while during recent election campaigns in India and Brazil, misinformation spread in groups on WhatsApp, the encrypted chat app owned by Facebook.

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