Facebook Blocking ISIS Clothing Sales


The use of social media to influence public opinion is under scrutiny by Facebook in the wake of complaints regarding the sale of products bearing the ISIS logo. The products in question are marketed with the ISIS logo and the militant group’s phrases such as “We are all ISIS” and “Until the Last Drop of Blood”.

ISIS stands for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. This is a jihadist militant group that operates as the self-proclaimed independent state claiming the territory of Iraq and Syria. It’s believed the group intends to move into Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus and Palestine. Well known for its harsh interpretation of Islam the group is composed of a number insurgent group, including the former IS, and AQI.

In the last month ISIS has toppled the government in several major cities in Iraq, taken hostages, executed military and government officials, and held civilians in fear. According to the most recent reports Shiite Turkmen villages in northern Iraq claim that the ISIS carried out what’s been referred to as “savage massacre” in a number of villages near Kirkuk. The survivors who have fled into Kurd controlled Kirkuk have described ISIS shelling at least four villages before entering. Snipers shot those who attempted to flee initially, and once the militants entered they carried out a number executions of civilians, police, and soldiers.

Facebook, which has sidestepped becoming involved in politics or global censorship in the past has begun a sweep of and removal of pages marketing ISIS paraphernalia once media or the public alert them to the their presence. According to Facebook this follows their anti-hate speech rules and agreements with users.

The products are marketed on several sites, mostly from Indonesia, and experts on the Middle East are unsure if ISIS is actually behind the marketing of the products. Others, such as J.M. Berger a researcher on terrorism has told reporters he wouldn’t be surprised if some of the money from the sales didn’t end up going to ISIS. He has reported that the militant group has strong support in Southeast Asia, and that many foreign fighters have been recruited from this region.

According to researcher Hassan Hassan of the Delma Institute in Dubai the merchandising could be a recruiting tool in that the group is using these products including T-shirts, hoodies, and toy figurines to market itself as “cool”. This is according to Hassan one the common propaganda tools the group uses.

Berger has informed the media that some of the Indonesia manufacturers could be simply looking for a way to cash in on the current interest in the group, but others could be sympathetic to the group’s message.

The manufacturers of the products sold on websites such as Rezji.com describe themselves as “distributors of anti-western culture. Sayings on the site include “together we stand with you against the tyrants.”

Other social websites such as Twitter have so far not made any public statements regarding these sites using their services to sell this type of merchandize, or if this type of content will be removed.


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