Hamas' Use of Social Media & How to Protect Your Family

October 12, 2023

The recent use of social media by Hamas presents an increased risk of exposure to harmful content to social media users, including families. This week, as everyone’s social media feeds are flooded with content covering the Israel-Hamas war, it is important to remember that the “barrier for entry” to participate in the world of social media is low. Anyone can create an account and immediately begin posting content – from reputable news sources, to individual users posting their own on-the-ground experiences and opinions from around the world.Despite the existing content moderation standards, filters, and parental control options available on social media, the quality and effectiveness of those controls vary greatly across platforms and none of them are perfect. You cannot control the algorithm-generated content you or your children may see while scrolling. Hamas is utilizing social media as a tool to intentionally spread disinformation and broadcast their acts of terrorism and they’ve promised to do so this weekend. Social media users everywhere face an increased risk of being unwillingly exposed to this extremely violent, graphic, and harmful content. It is strongly recommended that children are kept off of social media throughout the weekend to ensure they are not exposed to violent or graphic content.As the war continues, Red Five also recommends the following to protect your children, your family, and yourself from being exposed to harmful content:

  • Consider taking a break from social media as a family. Exposure to violent content has been proven to have long-lasting, harmful impacts on both children and adults. The best way to avoid harmful content is limiting or abstaining from using social media during times of increased risk.
  • Check security settings on all devices and apps used by children.
  • If you do choose to remove social media apps from your family’s devices this weekend, don’t forget to remove them for all devices.  Major social media platforms have apps available for phones, tablets, laptops, and even smart TVs.
  • Particular attention should be given to the platforms with short-form video content such as YouTube, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, and Facebook, as there is no way to control the algorithm-generated content that appears in your feed.
  • Talk with your family about the dangers of disinformation and harmful content. As the capabilities of AI continue to evolve, it is increasingly more difficult to identify disinformation at first glance. Keep in mind that images, videos, and even voice recordings can be easily manufactured to be intentionally misleading.
  • If you do encounter any graphic, violent, or otherwise harmful content:
  • It is crucial that you do not engage with the post (not even to give it a thumbs-down). Social media algorithms are designed to promote engagement from their users, and will therefore “boost” any content that yields a strong response from users, regardless of whether the engagement is negative or positive.
  • Engaging with harmful or controversial content leaves you vulnerable to harassment from any of the millions of other users on that platform. Remember, even if your profile is private, comments made on public posts are viewable by the public.
  • Harmful content should be reported as such to the social media platform.
Red5 Communications

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