Terrorist and violent extremist groups have become increasingly adept at exploiting information and communications technologies (ICT) — including the Internet and social media — to promote their ideologies and conduct their operations. No longer limited to the dissemination of propaganda and incitement of hatred, the abuse of ICT for terrorist purposes also includes recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and supporters, fundraising, training, and planning of attacks.
On the margins of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA73), the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), and Tech Against Terrorism organized a side event on this theme. “Public-private efforts to address terrorist content online: a year of progress – what’s next?”, held on 27 September 2018, provided an opportunity for experts to exchange views on the progress made over the past year, identify challenges, good practices, and next steps for public-private efforts in this area.
Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) Michèle Coninsx, Executive Director of CTED, delivered a keynote address emphasizing that cooperation between the public and private sector is essential to effectively protect populations from terrorist threats, while safeguarding human rights obligations.
Will McCants, Google’s Global Public Policy Lead for Counterterrorism, explained that the purpose of GIFCT is to disrupt terrorists’ exploitation of the Internet through the knowledge-sharing of good practices between large and small companies.
Monika Bickert, Facebook’s Vice President for Global Policy Management and Counterterrorism, said terrorists spend an immense amount of time online spreading their messages, disseminating propaganda, and glorifying acts of violence.
Adam Hadley, Director of Tech Against Terrorism, stressed that terrorists have always used media and the online space to further their agenda, and called on all partners to focus on all forms of technologies and not just social media.
The event was attended by over 80 people from close to 20 Member States, 20 non-governmental organizations and research institutes, as well as five international and regional organizations, and seven UN entities.
CTED’s Flickr album with photos from the event is available here.