Facebook labels organisations that have broken US sanctions as Terrorists

Facebook Dangerous Individuals and Organisations list

Facebook users are at risk of being banned for speaking positively about seemingly innocuous organisations that have been labelled as terrorists in the recently revealed “snap shot” of the “Dangerous Individuals and Organisations” (DIO) list. Hidden on the list, released by The Intercept, among groups like al-Qa’ida and ISIS are airlines, engineering firms, and a car manufacturer, all categorised as terrorist organisations.

The DIO list is split into three tiers of categories, which determine how strictly speech about them is policed. Tier 1, “Terrorist” and “Hate”, has the toughest rules, with any positive speech resulting in a ban. 

“Militarized Social Movement” is the only category in Tier 3, comprised exclusively of US groups, almost all of which are white militias. Among them is American Patriots USA designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

The list of more than 1000 organisations, categorised by the DIO as terrorists, features many harmless sounding names: Aircraft Aviation Parts Limited, Printing Trade Center and Kanso Fishing Agency. The thing that all of these seemingly innocent organisations have in common? Being listed as Specially Designated Individuals (SDNs) by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC).

SDNs are people or organisations deemed to have violated a U.S. sanctions program, or associated with someone who is already on the list, leading to a system of guilt by association. Once on the list they are cut off from the US financial system, and have all of their assets frozen.

People are made SDNs with no warning and little to no explanation, and then find it very difficult to be removed: “I tend to like sanctions programs that come as a complete surprise.” Said Robert McBrien, a previous director of Global Targeting at OFAC, in an interview with Andrew Cockburn. 

40% of the organisations found on both the SDN and DIO Terror lists are “Affiliated With” the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). A branch of the Iranian military, accused of being a funder of terror and a destabilising presence in the region. The US State Department designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization in 2019.

The relative guilt of many of these innocent sounding organisations is unclear, for example charitable organisations that have been declared as fronts for funding terror by the UN, such as al-Haramain Foundation

However due to the DIO categorisation of these organisations people could be removed from the platform for posts that would not appear to be spreading hate or glorifying terror. Particularly if you’re an Iranian citizen who’s written about, for example, the great in-flight entertainment on Caspian Airlines, how fuel efficient the new Bahman car is, or how much they love their job at the Shomal Cement Company. These posts, according to the DIO, could get them banned from Facebook.

Facebook Dangerous Individuals and Organisations list Facebook users are at risk of being banned for speaking positively about seemingly innocuous organisations that have been labelled as terrorists in the recently revealed “snap shot” of the “Dangerous Individuals and Organisations” (DIO) list. Hidden on the list, released by The Intercept, among groups like al-Qa’ida and ISIS…

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