During an extraordinary exchange of views with Google and Facebook on “Social media, the internet and counter-terrorism”, S&D MEP Marlene Mizzi held a debate on the challenges of ensuring that the internet and social media are not used as a platform for terrorists’ propaganda and online hate speech.

The initiative was hosted by Digital Europe Working Group, of which Marlene Mizzi is a full member. Itaimed at engaging the European institutions and IT companies in a discussion on how best to detect and disrupt terrorist-related activities on the internet and social media, and how to intensify the work of IT companies to counter terrorist propaganda.

MEP Mizzi said that the use of the internet and social media is nowadays probably the most powerful tool for terrorists organisations to spread their propaganda, promote their ideologies, recruit people, collect funds and even coordinate attacks.

“Avenues for radicalisation and the risks of domestic terrorism in Europe are growing with the spread of global terrorist networks using online platforms and messengers, such as Twitter or Facebook, for terrorist propaganda and communication. Their dependence on social networks suggests that without the internet and social media, terrorists organisations would not be able to spread their message virally,” said MEP Mizzi.

MEP Mizzi is convinced that social media and internet should be used to our advantage to implement counter-terrorist techniques, that can help us maintain public safety by preventing terrorism, protecting the public from it and pursuing its perpetrators.

One such strategy is the recently announced Code of Conduct on Illegal Online Hate Speech and Internet Forum through which private companies have agreed together with the Commission to remove content from the internet, which they consider illegal.

Marlene Mizzi said that whilst such initiatives seem like a good idea, the question remains how far private companies can go against the backdrop of radically changing technology and public attitudes towards surveillance, fundamental rights and law enforcement.

In this regard, MEP Mizzi said that a strong regulatory framework at European level can help constrain the use of internet by jihadi organisations, strengthen de-radicalisation efforts, and limit their access to funding.

“Furthermore, once the online platforms and companies spot an illegal terrorist content they must immediately flag it to the responsible national and European authorities for further investigation,” commented Marlene Mizzi.
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