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Social Networks Asked To Hand Over Terrorists' Data

Online Privacy Discussion Causes More Controversy

The terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) have been known to spread their message and ideals through social media. Social media, in this case, has been used to the full extent from tweeting and posting propaganda videos on YouTube to using social media networks to recruit new followers. Facebook, Twitter and Google have been quick to react and most of the terrorists' content is removed and their profiles deleted. However, the UK government feel that they are not doing enough, as images like the one below are still filtering through.
On Sunday, representatives of various social media networks will be invited to Downing Street where they will be asked by the UK government to hand over all data relating to ISIS terrorists accounts on their websites. This includes IP addresses, usernames, emails and names. These websites already remove the bulk of the inflammatory and illegal content posted by extremists but only hand over the information relating to the accounts when specifically asked by the police. The UK government now want the social media giants to hand over this data automatically, about the content they chose to remove from their website.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will also be asked to take down all extremist material relating to ISIS. This crackdown does not only include illegal content such as bomb making or extremely violent videos but also propaganda videos used to recruit Muslims all around the world.While social media networks always do their best to take down all illegal material, they previously chose to leave the less inflammatory content up. This not only informs the general population what ISIS's message actually is but also enables us to criticize it and come up with a way to counteract it.

Is it really beneficial to us to remove all content provided by ISIS? I do think to some extent that it is healthy to be able to see for yourself two sides of the story. Of course, all illegal, explicitly violent content should be removed without question, but what about the other videos or tweets that do not necessarily incite violence? If it is possible to remove it all, how can we form an opinion? All our information would be second-hand, provided by the media that love to only tell one story. In this case, the government are worried that any propaganda could be used to recruit British Muslims.
Facebook and Twitter are understandably reluctant to comply to all these demands, fearing that their reputation will be on the line, or that they will be named 'police informants'. Furthermore, the UK government seems to be ignoring freedom of speech in the name of fighting terrorism.While in ISIS's case, the UK government's position is easy to understand, as having access to all this data could lead to arrests in England, we should take a step back. What if any government were to ask the same thing of Facebook and Twitter but not to fight terrorism but to get rid of content that explicitly criticizes that said government? To get information on all and any dissidents? Would that still be acceptable?

Laura is a recent graduate from University of East Anglia in Film and Television Studies, currently interning as a content writer but hoping to one day live off her writing. Follow her @LauraAtSMF.

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Social Networks Asked To Hand Over Terrorists' Data Reviewed by Laura Veit on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 Rating: 5
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