Tech Community Versus Terrorism

Earlier this week, Andrew Parker, Director-General of MI5, made a rare public appearance to outline the severity of the terrorist threat currently being faced in the United Kingdom. Within his speech, Mr Parker said that technology firms, specifically social media platforms and operators, were inadvertently helping terrorists by not doing enough to take down extremist content or for allowing terrorists a “safe space” to both communicate and operate. He went on to state that he believes “that there is a responsibility on the companies that offer those services to help governments be able to stop the worst excesses of human criminal behaviour.” A viewpoint that echoes that of the Prime Minister, who last month urged Tech firms to “go further and faster” to stop terrorist material reaching online platforms.

While no-one can argue with the intention of these statements, their implementation however is considerably more difficult. Over the past 12 months, we have seen social media platforms battle to understand how their platforms are being exploited and what can be done to mitigate, remediate, and protect against the issues. We’ve seen Facebook amongst others admit that machine learning and artificial intelligence alone cannot identify and resolve all issues and in the 48 hours Twitter have launched their latest crackdown on hate and abuse. But the question remains, is this enough?

Here at Neotas, we believe that it is not only the social media tech firms but the entire tech community who can assist to start eliminating these “safe spaces”. Through our screenings and investigations, we are consistently delving deeper into social media profiles in addition to those portions of the web hidden away from Google. Over the past six months, our team of expert analysts have reported numerous cases to Crimestoppers and through the Government Prevent strategy. We have policies in place for exactly these eventualities, as we believe that our commitment is not only to our clients but to the greater community as a whole. It is for this reason that we additionally work with a number of charities and partners to use open source information to combat some of the greatest challenges facing our society today.

No matter how much artificial intelligence develops, no single platform can prevent and stop these issues alone. Moreover, the inclusion of an analyst is essential to both review and influence the direction an investigation. At Neotas, we are proud of the work of our analysts and to be collaborating and contributing to a safer internet environment.

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