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Facebook is refusing to take down a video of African migrants being tortured—with good reason



“We want help. My brother, my brother, we are dead!”

These are the calls of a group of migrants, trapped in Libya and circulated on Facebook.

A video of about 260 mainly Somali and Ethiopian migrants held captive by criminal gangs in Libya has been circulating on Facebook. The International Organization for Migration wants the video removed, but the world’s largest social media network says it serves a greater purpose by raising awareness of the horror migrants face.

The footage, first posted in June, was apparently shot by a Somali journalist based in Turkey who recorded a video call when the gang reached out to him, according to the United Nations agency. In it are dozens of Somali and Ethiopian migrants huddled in a concrete room, emaciated and desperate.

“I have [been] here one year. I am beaten every day. I swear I do not eat food. My body is bruised from beating,” said one captive.

“This specific video was posted to condemn smuggling and raise awareness of the issue, so we would not consider it a violation of our policies,” Facebook said in an emailed statement to Quartz on Aug. 30. “We realize the video is disturbing so we have added a warning screen and the video’s distribution will be limited to those aged 18 and over.”

In another scene, the viewer can see a starved young man with a concrete block weighted on his back. The man has been under the stone for three days as punishment when his family failed to pay an $8,000 ransom.

The International Organization for Migration has asked Facebook to take down the video because it says the clips are being used to extort money. The captors have been known to send videos to the migrants’ loved ones via Facebook messenger or WhatsApp, demanding a ransom, according to the UN agency. Facebook said they could not comment on what are still allegations.

The search “migrants Libya” turns up dozens of harrowing videos of migrants being beaten, naked as they wash in an open room from a shared bucket, or washed up on the shore, dead. Many of them are put up by news organizations.

Facebook has come under fire for not taking down live videos of murder, but as the network becomes a key source of news, it will face many of the ethical organizations that news organizations are still trying to figure out themselves.

The migrant crisis has created a particular set of ethical issues. Last year, the New York Times published the image of migrants climbing over the dead bodies of other migrants on its front page, with the accompanying text, “Just like a slavery boat.” The image was criticized for trivializing the agony of black people as the people in the image went unnamed.

While newspapers like the Times may have some social influence over actors who can intervene to remedy desperate situation, Facebook hasn’t demonstrated a similar influence. A video on Facebook also lacks the usual news filters and ethical gatekeeping that a news image has; the company’s moderators have become de facto news editors.

Facebook’s ubiquity has been driving people to act anyway. Many of the young Africans who risk their lives to get to Europe are driven by “glamorous” social media posts of those who are already there, giving them hope that they, too, can enjoy such lives if only they can cross the Mediterranean.

Seeing images of what those crossings entail could act as a deterrent.


Rep. Ellison, Rep. Emmer, and Colleagues Introduce Resolution Condemning Terror Attack in Mogadishu



WASHINGTON — On the one-month anniversary of the October 14th terror attack on Mogadishu, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), along with Reps. Steve Stivers (R-OH), Karen Bass (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Denny Heck (D-WA) introduced House Resolution 620, which condemns the attack, expresses sympathy for its victims and their families, and reaffirms U.S. support for Somalia.

The October 14th terror attack killed more than 350 people, including three American citizens, and injured another 200—making it the single deadliest in Somalia’s history.

“It’s been a month since the terrible and cowardly attack on Mogadishu, and my heart still breaks for the people of Somalia and their families and friends here in the United States,” Ellison said. “The people of Somalia have shown incredible resilience— coming together not only as part of an inspiring effort to recover from this attack, but also to rebuild their nation in the spirit of peace and prosperity. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to express solidarity with the people of Somalia by strongly condemning the senseless violence, extending our condolences to all those affected by the attack, and reaffirming continued U.S. support for Somalia.”

“Just over a month ago, Mogadishu experienced a horrific and tragic terrorist attack,” said Emmer. “This attack hit close to home with three of our fellow Americans – including one Minnesotan – among the more than 350 men, women and children who lost their lives far too soon. I stand with my colleagues and the Somali community to condemn last month’s attack. I am proud to work with my colleagues to offer condolences and lend support as Somalia works to rebuild itself and its communities in the wake of this recent tragedy. Today, and every day, we stand against terror and join together to rid this world of evil.”
The full text of the resolution reads as follows:

“Strongly condemning the terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 14, 2017, and expressing condolences and sympathies to the victims of the attack and their families.

Whereas on October 14, 2017, a truck bomb filled with military grade and homemade explosives detonated at a busy intersection in the center of Mogadishu, Somalia, and took the lives of more than 350 people and injured more than 200 additional people;

Whereas at least three Americans, Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow, Mohamoud Elmi, and Abukar Dahie, were killed in the attack;

Whereas the Somali Government believes that Al-Shabaab was responsible for the attack, although no official claims of responsibility have yet been made;

Whereas Al-Shabaab has previously avoided claiming responsibility for Al Shabaab operations when it believes the operation may significantly damage its public image among Somalis;

Whereas the Department of State condemned ‘‘in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks that killed and injured hundreds in Mogadishu on October 14’’;

Whereas the Department of State stated that ‘‘the United States will continue to stand with the Somali government, its people, and our international allies to combat terrorism and support their efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity’’;

Whereas according to the Department of State’s Country Report on Terrorism for 2016, Al-Shabaab is the most potent threat to regional stability in East Africa;

Whereas the United States continues to support counterterrorism efforts in coordination with the Government of Somalia, international partners, and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mainly through capacity building programs, advise and assist missions, and intelligence support;

Whereas Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, declared three days of national mourning in response to the attack;

Whereas the vibrant, bustling district of Mogadishu where the attack occurred is characteristic of the city’s revitalization, and the solidarity and efforts by the city’s residents to rebuild already are a testament to their resilience; and

Whereas Somalia has been a strong partner to the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) strongly condemns the terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 14, 2017;

(2) expresses its heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies for the victims of the attack and their families;

(3) honors the memories of Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow, Mohamoud Elmi, and Abukar Dahie, who were murdered in the horrific terrorist attack;

(4) recognizes the significant efforts to combat terrorism by the Government of Somalia, the countries contributing troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia, and United States forces in Somalia;

(5) reaffirms United States support for the Government of Somalia’s efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity and combat terrorism in Somalia; and

(6) renews the solidarity of the people and Government of the United States with the people and Government of Somalia.”

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Somali youth project update (Project TooSoo)



CBC —  For the past year, a group of young Somalis in Toronto has been learning how to re-claim the stories told about their community.

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Looking back on my Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace | Mo Farah



I recently had the honour of being knighted by Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace. When I came to the UK from Somalia aged 8, not speaking any English, who would have thought that my running would eventually lead me here? This was another very special gold medal for me and I am so honoured to have received it. Here’s a little glimpse of how the day went for me.

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