Home Affairs

Home Affairs Committee say Internet giants fail to tackle extremism

August 25, 2016 | Nick Taylor

The Home Affairs Committee says that social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are “consciously failing” to combat the use of their sites to promote terrorism and killings, in its report published following an inquiry that has lasted 12 months, and included visits to Glasgow, Bradford, and Europol. The Committee says these networks have become “the vehicle of choice in spreading propaganda and the recruiting platforms for terrorism”.

The Home Affairs committee’s reports states the following facts:


800 UK-linked fighters are estimated to have travelled to Syria and Iraq since the conflicts began in those countries. 50% of these foreign fighters are thought to have returned.

Terrorism-related arrests in the UK were 35% higher in 2015 than in 2010.

The UK’s annual counter-terrorism policing budget has risen from £594 million in 2015–16 to £670 million for 2016–17.

The Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit has secured the removal of more than 120,000 pieces of terrorist-related content between 2010 and 2016. On average about 100 removal requests per day contain Syria-related content, which would amount to 36,500 requests per year.

The EU Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) made over 500 referrals in the first 16 weeks after it was established in July 2015, of which 90% were successfully removed.

Between mid-2015 and February 2016, Twitter had suspended over 125,000 accounts globally that were linked to terrorists. Google removed over 14 million videos globally in 2014 which related to all kinds of abuse.

Over 90% of Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani Muslims living in the UK think of themselves as British—a higher proportion than in other ethnic groups. Over 80% believe it is possible to maintain both British and other cultural/religious identities effectively.

Less than 0.5% of UK journalists are Muslim, compared to almost 5% of the national population.


Nick Taylor, Foundation Chief Executive said:

What’s clear from today’s report is the sheer volume of terrorist and extremist activity online as well as offline. Internet companies are stepping up their efforts to remove this content, but there is always more that can be done, by all of us.

“Protecting and safeguarding those most at risk of radicalisation is a responsibility that bears on everyone. It goes beyond working to stem the flows of terrorist content on social media and requires educating those who are potentially vulnerable on how to think critically, to ensure we build their resilience to extremist propaganda.  

“The battle against extremism will not be won overnight, but through building partnerships, between civil society, internet companies, government, and ordinary citizens. It is only by working together that we can protect our young people and our communities from this threat.”

Listen to Nick Taylor talking on BBC Radio Merseyside – click here (LISTEN AT 01 hour 07 minutes and 30 seconds)