After London attacks, Facebook, Twitter pledge to continue anti-terror help

Facebook and Twitter vowed to continue policing their networks for terrorist elements after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's call for tougher Internet regulation in the wake of recent terror attacks in London.

May called for international collaboration to "regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning. And we need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online."

Her comments came Sunday morning after a Saturday night attack beginning on London Bridge with attackers ramming pedestrians with a van before stabbing several people in a market. Seven people were killed with many more injured. The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, claimed responsibility for attack. "We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed," she said.

Facebook seeks to be "a hostile environment for terrorists," said Simon Milner, Facebook's Director of Policy said in a statement Sunday. "Using a combination of technology and human review, we work aggressively to remove terrorist content from our platform as soon as we become aware of it—and if we become aware of an emergency involving imminent harm to someone's safety, we notify law enforcement."

In December 2016, Facebook joined Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube in creating an database to help prevent the spread of terrorist content including videos and images online. "We have long collaborated with policymakers, civil society, and others in the tech industry, and we are committed to continuing this important work together," Milner said.

At Twitter, the network's U.K. Head of Public Policy Nick Pickles said in a statement Sunday, "Terrorist content has no place on Twitter. We continue to expand the use of technology as part of a systematic approach to removing this type of content."

Twitter has suspended more than 636,000 accounts for violations related to the promotion of terrorism. "We will never stop working to stay one step ahead and will continue to engage with our partners across industry, government, civil society and academia," Pickles said.

But it will take more than the help of popular global social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to prevent the spread of terrorism online, said Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King's College London.

"Big social media platforms have cracked down on jihadist accounts, with result that ... Most jihadists are now using end-to-end encrypted messenger platforms e.g. Telegram," he said in a series of tweets Sunday after May's speech. "Moreover, few people (are) radicalised exclusively online. Blaming is politically convenient but intellectually lazy."


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