Wednesday 4 August 2021
AMAN has made history as the only Muslim civil society organisation worldwide to author a policy paper shortlisted by the Global Internet forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), an organisation that is grappling with how to identify violent extremist and terrorist content in a way that is not limited to one ideology.
GIFCT has recognised that their current system relies on designation lists that are influenced by political imperatives and tend to only focus on ISIL, Al-Qaeda and other self-declared Islamist organisations.
The effects are profound – these lists construct a reality that distorts the way people see certain communities and even how communities see themselves.
But how to move to a system that is focused more on behaviour, rather than who is doing it, is also fraught with dangers from a human rights perspective.
AMAN Advisor Rita Jabri Markwell participated in this global conversation, partnering with University of Queensland researchers to further develop a new algorithmic model they were conceiving.
While every model will be problematic, the strengths of the proposed UQ/AMAN model are worth highlighting.
Making decision-making transparent would improve the status quo.
“Full transparency enables researchers to review the scope for discrimination, to see the degree to which human rights and humanitarian laws are weighted, and to explain why certain actors are left out or put in,” said Jabri Markwell.
“Choosing to make such an algorithm transparent is one of the most powerful steps a social media company can take to show their commitment to human rights is genuine.”
Importantly, AMAN advocated for serial or systematic dehumanisation of a group on the basis of a protected attribute, such as their race or religion, to be counted in any new severity framework.
“It was the strength of this work that prompted GIFCT to invite us to participate,” said Jabri Markwell.
“Preventing incitement to genocide through dehumanisation is not a negotiable option by companies – that was our view.”
The paper elevates the concepts of dehumanising language and dehumanising discourse, as defined in AMAN’s studies, to the global stage.