EU law enforcers team up with Facebook and Instagram to combat online terrorist propaganda

On Thursday 11 January, Europol’s Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) organised the eighth joint Referral Action Day with colleagues from the national referral units of the UK, Belgium and France to identify and secure the swift removal of terrorist and violent extremism content uploaded on Facebook and Instagram. The intensive referral campaign was hosted at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague and targeted content by terrorist groups and terrorist sympathisers aimed at radicalising, recruiting and propagating terrorist activities.

During the course of the day, the specialist law enforcement units performed a qualitative assessment of several hundred pieces of suspected terrorist propaganda, detecting emerging patterns in terrorist abuse of the online platforms as well as shifting trends in the dissemination of terrorist propaganda, namely the rise of user-generated content as opposed to ‘official’ propaganda by terrorist organisations.

Europol’s EU IRU and national IRUs in the European Union (EU) co-operate with Facebook in the framework of the EU Internet Forum, which is run by the EU Commission. The overriding objective here is one of restricting the availability of online content that promotes terrorism or incites violence.

Facebook attended this joint action in The Hague, standing by its stated commitment “to remove terrorists and posts that support terrorism” whenever the organisation becomes aware of them and “to make their platforms a hostile place for terrorists”.

This co-ordinated action against online terrorist propaganda focused mainly on the online production of terrorist materials by IS and Al-Qaeda-affiliated media outlets. Among the items referred were propaganda videos and publications glorifying or otherwise supporting terrorism and extremism.

The final removal of the referred material is a voluntary activity by the social media platforms involved, taking into consideration their own Terms and Conditions.

During the Referral Action Days, Europol promotes a co-ordinated approach to fight terrorist propaganda online. Similar joint actions involving EU Member States and online industry partners alike will continue to be organised on a regular basis.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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