France Wants Google, Facebook, and Twitter's Help Fighting Terrorism

By Darren Orf on at

When it comes to social media presence, the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) has western nations completely outgunned. In fact, ISIS and its supporters tweet and post upwards of 90,000 times a day, which has led to the US and the UK reconsidering their propaganda social media strategies. France wants to take a slightly different approach and work with the giant US tech companies directly.

The French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve met with Google, Facebook, and Twitter to talk about a possible partnership to help battle terrorism that uses online services as means to preach hate and violence. In official responses to The Associated Press, Twitter and Facebook say they do everything they can to scrub their massive platforms of any content that would incite violence but didn't go as far as to say they'd be a part of France's anti-terrorism justice league. Google tells NBC News that community flagging actually works well, and that they're usually able to get videos down within the hour.

The reason for Cazeneuve's visit is to help speed up the process of reporting and investigating terrorist accounts online. AP reports that Cazeneuve doesn't want to go through normal government channels during investigations because they're simply too slow, and therefore, somewhat ineffective.

France's push into serious mode regarding the ISIS threat is spurred greatly by the horrific January murders of the Charlie Hebdo staff. In response, the French government created a new website aimed at dissuading people from joining ISIS's ranks, as well as boosting anti-terrorism measures in general.

But just simply wiping the internet of anything labelled "terrorism," which is a historically slippery term, isn't really the greatest solution either. The Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that censoring the internet just covers up problems that are not really going away and mentions that France has had a problem in the past with the "legal precision" of what "terrorist act" really means. Twitter also mentions that the US government tracks ISIS through social media accounts, so wiping them out of existence isn't so simple.

Whatever the case, governments are scrambling to find any way to shut down ISIS's online propaganda juggernaut. Cazeneuve hopes to continue the conversation with Google, Facebook, and Twitter, this April in Paris. [AP and NBC News]

Image of ISIS "hack" of US Central Command's YouTube account