UPDATED 09:30 EDT / NOVEMBER 26 2014

UK report attacks Facebook for failure to disclose terrorist communications

Facebook-TrackingA report by a United Kingdom committee criticizes Facebook Inc. for failing to disclose information that they say could have prevented the murder a British army soldier last year.

On May 22, 2013, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale attacked Fusilier Lee Rigby as he crossed the street outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in London.

The two men hit Fusilier Rigby with their car, knocking him to the ground. Thy then exited the vehicle and stabbed Fuslier Rigby multiple times.

As they were approached by onlookers, Abebolajo and Adebowale claimed that their attack was retribution for the Muslims that were being killed by British soldiers abroad.

An onlooker recorded a disturbingly calm Adebolajo explaining the reason behind the murder.


Warning signs


The UK’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) of Parliament released the report as part of their investigation into Abebolajo and Adebowale and whether or not anything could have been done to prevent the attack.

The report noted that it was “improbable” that any single factor could have prevented Fusiler Rigby’s death, but it singled out one piece of evidence as particularly important.

In a chat conducted on Facebook months before the attack, Adebowale talked with a person overseas about some of his extremist views and voiced his desire to kill a British solider.

“Had MI5 had access to this exchange, their investigation into Adebowale would have become a top priority,” the report said. “It is difficult to speculate on the outcome but there is a significant possibility that MI5 would then have been able to prevent the attack.”


What could Facebook have done?


The ISC’s report repeatedly stresses the difficulty in obtaining intelligence information from overseas companies, especially in regards to communications on social media.

They noted that the legal hurdles involved in requesting the information could take months to overcome, and with the hundreds of millions of people using social media, it was impossible for them to monitor all of them.

For this reason, the report states that companies like Facebook must take a proactive role in reporting serious threats online.

Former MI6 Director Richard Barrett told the BBC that he considered the ISC’s criticisms too harsh, saying: “I think it’s unfair to ask companies to make that decision. I think there has to be a legal basis for them so they know what they are to do and what not do to.”

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