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Facebook takes down Taliban recruiter page

Part of the Pakistan Taliban's Facebook page that has now been removed.
Part of the Pakistan Taliban's Facebook page that has now been removed.SITE Intelligence Group

Facebook removed a page set up by the Taliban in Pakistan, after a monitoring group reported on its existence as a fresh example of a social media tool being used for the recruitment of terrorists.

SITE, a non-governmental organization that monitors terrorist propaganda online and how terrorist groups use the Internet, called attention on Dec. 3 to the Facebook page that belonged to Umar Media TTP, the media arm of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Noted was Umar Media's October posting for "online job opportunities" for "video editing, translations, sharing, uploading, downloading and collection of required data." 

Then, in late November, page administrators posted a new item seeking writers, SITE said in its report. The Facebook solicitation said, in part:

Dear brothers and sisters 'Pen is mightier than the sowrd [sic]' Now you have a chance to use this mighty weapon.“'AHYAH-E-KHILAFAT' is an official quarterly magazine of 'TEHREEEK-E-TALIBAN PAKISTAN'.“Would you like to be a writer for 'AHYAH-E-KHILAFAT'?

"Umar Media's recruitment drive highlights the extent to which Jihadist groups recruit online as well as the professionalism of Jihadist propaganda production houses," SITE said in its report.

The page, which Facebook took offline in the past few weeks, has not been the only Taliban-related one on Facebook — there are others, including one supportive of the Afghanistan Taliban and another about Taliban news (neither of which appear to be very active).

A Facebook spokesperson told NBC News in an email that the social network — with more than 1 billion users worldwide now — does have rules that "bar direct statements of hate, attacks on private individuals and groups and the promotion of terrorism."

"We have a large team of professional investigators both in the U.S. and abroad who enforce these rules," the spokesperson said. 

"Where abusive content is posted and reported, Facebook removes it and disables accounts of those responsible. Whenever we become aware of possible violations of our terms, we will investigate these instances and take action if violations of our statements of rights and responsibilities take place."

Facebook, however, will not comment on specific pages, other than to tell NBC News: "Yes, we have removed the page."

The SITE report suggested that the group knew it might not stay visible on Facebook. "Knowing that their Facebook account may be taken down, the call for contributors was also posted on a page for the 'Ghaza-E-Hind' Facebook group." That group no longer appears to be on the social network, either.

The Pew Research Center's new report about social networking worldwide says that those in Arab countries are more likely than others around the globe to use sites like Facebook and Twitter to talk politics and religion, finding freedom of expression flowing more easily online than in real life, although several Middle Eastern countries having squelched Internet use at various times in recent years.

In more recent months, online propaganda campaigns even monitored the moment-by-moment actions of war in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

"It's a new method (of propaganda) added onto other methods," Charles Ries, former ambassador to Greece and vice president of the international division of the RAND Corporation, told NBC News at that time. "Both sides combine whatever they do in kinetic fashion with an effort to mobilize international opinion."

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