Social media firms must do more to tackle online Daesh hate factory

Updated 21 September 2017
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Social media firms must do more to tackle online Daesh hate factory

LONDON: Calls are mounting for social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter to do more to tackle online extremist material, as a new report from UK think-tank Policy Exchange finds that Daesh is producing more than 100 pieces of online content every week.
“For at least a year, the production of content has continued despite the death of key figures, loss of territory and ongoing fighting,” the report said.
The think-tank found that while extremists are increasing their use of the encrypted messaging service Telegram to communicate with each other, they have not abandoned other platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to spread their message.
Twitter accounts for 40 percent of identifiable traffic to extremist content online. Twitter is “a crucial gateway to the uninitiated — to those ISIS (Daesh) most hopes to target via its outreach,” it said.
The report outlined suggestions on how to tackle the problem, including a new law that would criminalize the “aggravated possession and/or persistent consumption of material that promotes hatred and violence, in the service of a political ideology.”
The aim would not be to criminalize every individual that ‘stumbles’ across extreme material, it said.
Policy Exchange also calls for tech companies to implement “more stringent” codes of conduct that “explicitly” reject extremism.
The establishment of a new independent regulator of social media content was a further recommendation. It also suggested a financial penalty system for UK-based subsidiaries of the tech companies, administered by the regulator to force compliance.
According to a survey conducted by the think tank, 74 percent of respondents would like to see legislation in place that criminalize the “persistent consumption” of extremist online content.
Approximately two-thirds of respondents believe the Internet should be regulated with extremist material controlled. Around 25 percent said it should be “completely free” without any limits of free speech.
In response to the report, Facebook said it was working “aggressively” to remove terrorist content from its platform.
“We’ve also built a shared industry database of ‘hashes’ — unique digital ‘fingerprints’ — of violent terrorist videos or images, which we’re actively expanding and is helping us to act on such content even more quickly,” said a Facebook spokesperson.
Twitter said on Sept.19 that it has suspended close to 300,000 accounts for violations related to the promotion of terrorism in the first half of this year. It said that 95 percent of those accounts were flagged by internal spam-fighting tools, while 75 percent of the accounts were closed down before their first tweet, the social media company said in its 11th biannual transparency report.
Google said it was “committed” to tackling online extremism. “Violent extremism is a complex problem and addressing it is a critical challenge for us all,” it said in a statement send to Arab News.
“We are making significant progress through machine learning technology, partnerships with experts, and collaboration with other companies through the Global Internet Forum — and we know there is more to be done.”
Telegram told Arab News in August that it takes down an average of 200 terrorism-related channels every day “before they can get any traction.”
Telegram did not respond to requests for comment other than to cite the company website which outlines its policy on terrorism.
The company argues that if you ban existing encrypted messaging services, extremist groups will easily switch to other methods of communication such as using coded language on any public channel or even making their own encrypted app.


Philippine president bolsters security, defense ties with Malaysia

Updated 16 July 2018
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Philippine president bolsters security, defense ties with Malaysia

  • Both Southeast Asian leaders have a dented human rights reputation globally although Mahathir has softened his strongman outlook
  • Piracy and armed robbery against ships remains an ongoing issue for leaders in Southeast Asia as oil and supplies worth billions are lost at sea each year

KUALA LUMPUR: President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reaffirmed to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation when they met for the first time in Putrajaya on Monday.

The meeting took place at the Malaysian Prime Minister’s office, where both strongmen “renewed and reaffirmed the long-standing brotherhood and friendship between the Philippines and Malaysia.”

“President Duterte likewise renewed the commitment to further strengthen defense and security cooperation at the bilateral and regional level,” according to a statement from Duterte’s office.

The two neighbors have enjoyed a good relationship despite the change of government in Malaysia, as the over-60-year rule by the National Front coalition ended abruptly during Malaysia’s elections on May 9.

Both Southeast Asian leaders have a dented human rights reputation globally, although Mahathir has softened his strongman outlook since he was put in power for the second time in May.

The newly formed government led by the world’s oldest leader, Mahathir Mohamad, has vowed to restore the “rule of law” in Malaysia.

Duterte pointed out in his statement “the need to address terrorism and violent extremism in the region, as well as transnational crime such as piracy and armed robbery at sea and the illegal drug trade.”

Piracy and armed robbery against ships in the region remains an ongoing issue for leaders in Southeast Asia as oil and supplies worth billions are lost at sea each year.

Southeast Asia has become a hotbed for Daesh-inspired terrorist activities and threats, and Duterte and Mahathir reaffirmed the need to boost the security and defense ties of both nations in the Southeast Asia region.

Malaysia’s state of Sabah is facing kidnapping threats from the Mindanao-based Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.

In 2017, a large-scale kidnapping plan in Sabah and Central Philippines was uncovered by military intelligence.

The same year, Marawi was under siege from Daesh-inspired militants. The Philippines declared Marawi “liberated” from terrorism. The aftermath cost 1,000 lives with more than 350,000 people in the city displaced.

Meanwhile, Malaysia played an important role when it became the third-party broker of a long-awaited peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014.

“President Duterte expressed appreciation for Malaysia’s sustained support for the quest for the just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao,” his official statement said.

Both leaders stressed the need toward “working closely together bilaterally and at ASEAN” in a region of more than 500 million where “greater stability and security in the region” is of the utmost importance.

The two countries are quietly in a land-lock over an 1878 land lease agreement on Sabah since the Federation of Malaysia was officially formed in 1963. Nevertheless, the Philippines’ long-standing claims over Sabah were off the plate during the bilateral discussion between Duterte and Mahathir.

On Sunday night before the meeting, both strongmen enjoyed watching the fight between Philippines’ world-renowned boxer Manny Pacquiao and Argentina’s fighter Lucas Matthysse.