Torfaen MP calls for greater action to be taken to counter the distribution of extremist content online 

In the wake of MI5’s recent warnings about the use of social media to legitimise extremist views and “galvanise” extremists into plotting attacks, Torfaen’s Member of Parliament, Nick Thomas-Symonds, has called on the Home Secretary to not only act to deal with those who access extremist content online, but also compel tech giants to take responsibility for content displayed on its platforms.

The issue was raised by MPs during questions to the Home Secretary on 25 February 2019, and asked the Home Secretary to disclose what recent discussions he has had with online platform providers on taking down extremist content.

During the debate, the Home Secretary claimed that Facebook had acted to remove roughly 9.4 million pieces of Daesh and al-Qaeda content in the second quarter of 2018, but acknowledged that there is still much to be done.

Though the Home Secretary indicated that he had met with tech giants about their role in countering the distribution of extremist content and has promised a White Paper, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP called for more immediate action.

Local Member for Parliament, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Shadow Minister for Security, stated: “platform providers have to take responsibility” and asked, “what excuse does he [the Home Secretary] have for not acting now?”

Mr. Thomas-Symonds’ concerns were echoed by colleagues including Julie Elliott MP who pressed for the Home Secretary to outline what conversations had taken place with platform providers such as Facebook, whose CEO, Mark Zuckerberg had refused to come before the House’s Select Committee on this issue.

In his capacity as Shadow Minister for Security, Mr. Thomas-Symonds has spoken out on this matter many times previously, and worked to update how the law deals with those who access extremist content online in his work on the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019.

When asked about the issue of extremist content, Mr. Thomas-Symonds stated:

“Social media and online platforms are powerful tools, and though they offer a platform for free speech, they also offer a dangerous platform through which individuals with malign intentions can spread dangerous content. It is important to send a clear message that accessing extremist content online is simply not acceptable.

“I worked with the Security Minister on what is now the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 to update or laws to deal with those who access online extremist content, but platform providers must take responsibility too. I hope the Government takes the concerns of the House of Commons on board.”

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