Some of the Facebook users on Friday encountered a pop-up box on their feeds, which asked them whether they think their friends are becoming extremists. These pop boxes raised concerns among US conservatives who felt that the platform might stifle their voices.

In this regard, the spokesperson of Facebook, Andy Stone in a Twitter exchange said that the pop-up alerts “sprang from an initiative at the social network to combat violent extremism and dangerous organizations”.

Meanwhile, the company in a statement said, “Redirect Initiative features are intended to route people using hate- or violence-related search terms toward resources, education or outreach groups aimed at more harmonious outcomes”.

For instance, the company said that if someone searches for white supremacy in the United States on Facebook, they will then be directed to a Life After Hate group that provides crisis intervention.

People on Twitter shared screenshot of messages in which Facebook asked them whether they were worried someone they knew was becoming an extremist or if they had been exposed to extremist content.

People could opt to click on a link to “get support” or simply close the pop-up box.

Virginia state politician Nicholas Freitas, a Republican, was among those who shared an image of the Facebook alert on Twitter.

She wrote, “I have a real concern that some leftist technocrats are creating an Orwellian environment where people are being arbitrarily silenced or banned for saying something the ‘thought police’ doesn’t like”.

Facebook and other online platforms have been under pressure to stop the spread of misinformation and posts leading to real-world violence. The company recently enhanced its automated tools to assist group moderators striving to keep exchanges civil in a time of clashing viewpoints.

These automated systems placed by Facebook check for posts in groups and news feeds that violate the platform’s rules about what content is acceptable.

In this regard, the company had in June also banned former US president Donald Trump for two years, saying he deserved the maximum punishment for violating platform rules over a deadly attack by his supporters on the US Capitol.

Trump was suspended from Facebook and Instagram after posting a video during the attack by his fired-up supporters challenging his election loss, in which he told them: “We love you, you’re very special.”

The social media giant also said it will no longer give politicians blanket immunity for deceptive or abusive content based on their comments being newsworthy.

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