Yesterday, at George Washington University, an energetic panel of government officials, scholars and policy advocates from business and civil society discussed the role of tech companies in an age of international terrorism. There is more to this thorny issue, but the panel began with a good outline of the issues at stake.
The panel met at a sad time when the world is mourning the loss of life from the attacks in Brussels. Coming after attacks in Paris, San Bernardino and Istanbul, we are clearly at a critical junction in the struggle against violent extremism. And that made today’s topic tragically timely and relevant.
So what are the responsibilities of tech companies in an age of international terrorism? I’d say that they have three:
This past Friday, February 5, Twitter announced - in a tweet, of course – that it had shut down more than 125,000 terrorism-related accounts since the middle of 2015, most of them linked to the Islamic State. The social media site removes accounts that are reported to them, and it also uses spam-fighting tools to identify and take down other violent accounts. It works with public interest groups to encourage counter speech and reports violent accounts to the government.