Social media platforms have pledged to rid their sites of “hate” and “terrorism.” But after the horrific bombing in Sri Lanka that killed nearly 300 Christians on Easter, they have remained strangely silent.
Officials in Sri Lanka linked the bombing to a radical Islamist group, National Thowheed Jamath. They have arrested 24 people in connection to the crime, which not only killed nearly 300 Christians but also injured 500 more. The Daily Mail reported that local Sri Lanka news had identified one of the bombers as one Imam Zahran Hashim, who was supposedly the group’s founder as well.
Hashim had posted several videos to YouTube discussing his agenda and quoting noted terrorist inciters. According to the Jerusalem Post, the videos were still active on the platform until April 21, when they were quietly removed.
These videos were also shared to Facebook. In one of the videos, Hashim, standing in front of a white background soaked with blood, was translated as saying, “Anyone who disagrees with Muslims should be killed.” Imam Mohamad Tawhidi tweeted, “This video & its background went unnoticed due to language barriers. If he was exposed & brought to the attention of the authorities, he could’ve been stopped.”
Tawhidi also noted, “with many lectures online and YouTube - makes you wonder why YT never banned him for his terrorist ideology.”
The Jerusalem Post stated that Hashim had videos that quoted Zakir Naik, an Indian Islamic preacher who heavily promotes Wahhabism and suicide bombing as part of Islam. Zaik is banned from the United Kingdom, Canada, and Malaysia, and is wanted for arrest in India for inciting hate and terrorist attacks. Naik has an active YouTube channel with over 900,000 subscribers.
Naik has defended Osama Bin Laden in the past, saying, “If bin Laden is fighting enemies of Islam, I am for him. If he is terrorizing America—the terrorist, biggest terrorist—I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist. The thing is that if he is terrorizing the terrorist, he is following Islam. Whether he is or not, I don’t know, but you as Muslims know that, without checking up, laying allegations is also wrong.”
Big Tech companies were quick to act when the shooting in New Zealand was live-streamed on Facebook. Videos were removed and blog posts announcing sweeping changes were released. But tech companies have been silent on the Sri Lanka bombings, even though it is obvious that social media has played a role in promoting the terrorist ideology behind the horrific tragedy.