Skip to main content

Suspected Olympics terror plot foiled with the help of Facebook and Twitter

Guide to watching the Olympics online
For you, Twitter and Facebook may be little more than a way to waste some time at work, but for investigators in Rio de Janeiro, the two social media giants were key tools in taking down a suspected terror plot. According to the judge who oversaw the probe leading to the arrest last week of alleged Islamist militants in Brazil ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics there, cooperation by Facebook and Twitter was “instrumental to understand the nature of discussions carried out by the suspects.”

Judge Marcos Josegrei da Silva noted: “The companies began to provide data related to the content of the conversations and data about where those conversations were posted.” While neither Facebook nor Twitter has commented on the details surrounding the case, spokespeople for both companies have noted a zero-tolerance policy for terrorism, and claim to fully cooperate with law enforcement and officials when necessary.

Related Videos

The continuing investigation has been named “Operation Hashtag,” and concerns a suspected plot to carry out attacks on the upcoming Olympics, which are scheduled to begin on August 5. The alleged terrorists are said to have sympathies with Islamic State, but their activity on social media (platforms upon which IS and other extremist groups have previously found significant success in recruitment and spreading propaganda), ultimately led to their capture.

Said Judge da Silva, “There is no anonymity for those sorts of activities on the Internet.”

In recent months, social media companies have begun to play an increasingly important role in efforts to combat terrorism. At the very beginning of the year, top tech CEOs, including those from Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, met with White House officials to discuss how to stop extremist groups from using social media to their advantage. More recently, a number of internet giants agreed to the EU’s new hate speech rules, further establishing their stance against intolerance the world over.

Editors' Recommendations

Facebook is paying some users to suspend their accounts before the 2020 election

If Facebook offered to pay you to temporarily shutter your account, would you take the money?

Such an offer could even be coming your way after it emerged the social networking giant is offering cash payments to some Facebook and Instagram users as part of a study to learn more about the effects of social media on democracy.

Read more
Facebook and Twitter flag Trump’s post about mail-in voting
Donald Trump

Facebook and Twitter on Thursday flagged a post written by President Donald Trump about the mail-in voting process. 

In Trump’s Facebook post, he tells voters they may have to vote both through the mail and in-person to make their vote count, which is illegal in all states, and is even considered a felony in North Carolina, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Read more
Facebook will stop accepting new political ads in the week before Election Day
Trump with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stylized image

Facebook says it won’t accept new political advertising in the week leading up to the U.S presidential election on November 3. The move is part of a broader set of measures Facebook is announcing today to tackle election interference and voter misinformation.

“The U.S. elections are just two months away, and with COVID-19 affecting communities across the country, I'm concerned about the challenges people could face when voting,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “I'm also worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or even weeks to be finalized, there could be an increased risk of civil unrest across the country.”

Read more