Tech Giants are 'Consciously Failing' on Terrorism, Says Parliament

By Tom Pritchard on at

Parliament has spoken out against Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for "consciously failing" to remove terrorist recruitment content, despite the fact all three companies have denied any lax attitude to such content.

A report from the Home Affairs Committee claims that the three sites are "the vehicle of choice in spreading propaganda and the recruiting platforms for terrorism." The report is based on information gathered from intelligence groups, the muslim community, counter-terrorism experts, and security specialists.

Some experts have hit back against the report, telling the Wall Street Journal that terrorists are more likely to recruit from encrypted messaging services - which have also come under fire from governments for not compromising user security with back-door access.

Meanwhile, speaking with the WSJ, all three companies have spoken out against the claims, denying that they have a lax attitude to terrorism-related content. In the past Twitter has made numerous claims about the amount of terror-related content it's removed, Facebook previously allowed the WSJ access to its anti-terror proceedings, and Google even has 'Don't Do Jihad' adverts served up to potential Islamic State converts.

Despite that lawmakers are adamant that the tech giants aren't doing enough, especially given how much money they rake in (clearly they haven't looked very hard at Twitter's financial reports), stating:

"These companies have teams of only a few hundred employees to monitor networks of billions of accounts and Twitter does not even proactively report extremist content to law enforcement agencies,"

The committee wants social media websites to take a "zero tolerance" approach to online extremism, recommending laws that would force sites to remove extremist content and pass on relevant details to the police. I was under the impression that this was already happening, especially given that Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter recently made commitments that would see them remove any such content within 24 hours of it being reported.

While the findings of the report are not legally binding, they do have a lot of influence over Parliament. So expect some legislation to pop up demanding social sites do what they already appear to be doing. That or bills giving more power to intelligence services so they can spy on everyone. [Parliament.uk via Engadget]