IN a report published today after a 12-month inquiry the UK Home Affairs Committee warns that social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are “consciously failing” to combat the use of their sites to promote terrorism.
Those networks are spreading propaganda and being used as “the recruiting platforms for terrorism”, states the report.
The internet has become the frontline in the fight against terrorism. Huge corporations like Google, Facebook, and Twitters are taking in billions of dollars but, warns the report, they are consciously failing to tackle the terrorism threat. They are passing the buck by hiding behind their international legal status. In reality, they are effectively promoting radicalism and terrorism.
Some efforts were made to tackle the problem in the past. Twitter suspended 125,000 of its accounts because of links with terrorists, and Google removed over 14m videos that were related to all kinds of abuse in 2014, but these measures were little more than a drop in the ocean.
These internet companies, which are earning billions, need to display a sense of real responsibility. They employ only a few hundred people to monitor networks with billions of accounts. Twitter does not even report to law enforcement agencies the extremist content that it detects.
The British policy in confronting these problem has clearly not being working.
The report advocates that the British media should avoid the promotion of negative views of certain groups through unbalanced and sensationalist reporting, which is essentially radicalising people.
The media’s understanding of the Muslim community is clearly questioned. Only 0.5% of British journalists are Muslim, but the Muslim community comprises 5% of the British population.
The report advocates that the UK government take a more sophisticated approach to identifying the factors promoting radicalism. It also pointedly notes that European organisations like Europol are vital resources in combating terrorism and extremism, and that Britain should therefore aim “to retain a central position in Europol, post Brexit”.
While a raft of legislation was introduced in the UK to combat terrorism over the past 12 years, these measures have largely failed. Thus it is important to ensure that any new legislation does achieve its objective; otherwise it will not only be futile but even counter-productive.
The report concludes that the police’s internet referral unit should be expanded and upgraded by employing the brightest talent to counter terrorist propaganda with even more sophisticated anti-radicalising material. It calls for a terrestrial star wars.
These issues may be Britain’s today, but they are likely to be our problems tomorrow. The Department of Justice should ensure that measures are taken to limit the criminal and subversive potential of the internet by keeping a close eye on internal developments.
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