Theresa May will tell internet firms to tackle extremist content

In the wake of the Parsons Green terror attack in London last week terrorist material was still easily available online

Prime Minister Theresa May will be asking internet companies to work towards identifying and taking down extremist content shared by terror groups within two hours in a summit that is to be held in NY on Wednesday (20 September).

The Prime Minister, along with other world leaders, had also scheduled meetings with the likes of Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter where they would challenge social media networks and search engines on the removal of extremist material from their servers. While internet companies are taking steps to curb this, the United Kingdom government believes that internet companies could do more, reports the Guardian.

Ms May will tell the event, on the fringe of the UN General Assembly that extremists are adapting to efforts to thwart them online - so the tech firms must do the same.

Twitter has said it deactivated 299,649 accounts between Jan 1 and June 30 and Facebook is looking to develop AI to automate the identification of terrorist material posted on its platform.

She will underline she wants them to "develop new technological solutions to prevent such content being uploaded in the first place". Search engines such as Google and Bing index terrorist-related content as soon as it's created, making it easy for potentially unsafe people to find.

Whether this is taken seriously by tech companies will be judged in one month time, when ministers at a G7 meeting on 20 October will decide on what progress has been made - if any.

The source added that once an internet user has shown interest in extremist content, the web giants' algorithms keep pushing similar material towards them online.

"They should really be focusing on what matters, which is stopping the spread of terrorism and violence".

"When I think of the hundreds of thousands of victims of terrorism in countries across the world, I think of their friends, their families, their communities, devastated by this evil".

Smaller firms are also being supported to beef up their technology to detect extremist content more successfully; and the government hopes to encourage the spread of "counter-narratives" from civil society groups offering an alternative perspective.

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