New laws needed to end social media broadcast of evil

by Liam Byrne | 01.04.17 | in: Extremism

I’ve called on the Home Secretary Amber Rudd to propose new laws aimed at stopping social media companies conniving in extremists’ broadcast of evil.

I proposed to the Home Secretary, who is meeting with social media companies, a set of ‘best in class’ changes based on ideas debated in the US, Germany and Ireland.

  1. Changes modelled on the US Feinstein Bill, which would require social media companies to report terrorist content to the authorities as soon as it is posted.
  2. Changes modelled on a German draft law proposed by Justice Minister Heiko Maas, proposing penalties of up to €50 million against social networks that fail to review complaints of hate speech and delete blatantly illegal content within 24 hours.
  3. Changes modelled on Irish proposals to create an independent watchdog authority responsible for monitoring social media firms like Facebook and Twitter in their efforts to remove abusive content, bullying and harassment – and to warn advertisers of where their adverts are inadvertently funding extremist material.

I provided the following quotes to journalists:

“We know the frontline is now online. Today, social media companies are worth billions but spend too little blocking the broadcast of evil. As ISIS are destroyed in the Middle East, the grave danger is they move their fight online.” 

“Social media giants are still the ISIS command-and-control platforms of choice. They are American companies hiding behind the First Amendment yet the consequences of their inaction are seen on our streets and in our communities. The time has come to say enough is enough and change the law, to force these firms to use their profits to protect us.” 


My latest book, Black Flag Down: Counter-extremism, Defeating ISIS and Winning the Battle of Ideas, published last November, warned that a perfect storm was coming as returning foreign fighters from Syria came together with a wave of terrorism offenders being released from jail and a change in tactics by ISIS to move its incitement to violence online.

Further Information:

1. Details on the Feinstein Bill can be found here: http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/262339-dem-to-revive-terrorist-reporting-mandate-for-web-firms

2. Details on German proposals can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/mar/14/social-media-hate-speech-fines-germany-heiko-maas-facebook

3. Details of the Irish proposals can be found here: http://www.politico.eu/article/ireland-to-get-social-media-watchdog/amp/

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