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Why do internet companies have one rule for paedophilia and another for terrorism?

19 December 2014

12:52 PM

19 December 2014

12:52 PM

Today’s Times investigation into how the Islamic State is encouraging young British women to marry into this terrorist organisation is chilling. It is also a reminder that social media is the jihadis’ recruitment tool of choice.

What’s striking is that Facebook closed down the account of Aisha, one of the girls in the investigation, because of the material she was posting. Now, the crucial question is whether Facebook informed the authorities after closing these accounts. What riles the security services, as I said in a piece last month, is that this is not done routinely. Infamously, Facebook did not inform the authorities that it had closed down an account belonging to Michael Adebowale, the man who went on to murder Lee Rigby.

Now, what makes this intransigence so frustrating is that we know these companies can do more because of what they are doing to counter the sexual exploitation of children. As Mark Field, a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, told me, there’s ‘no doubt that if Adebowale had been preparing a paedophile attack not a terrorist one, the authorities would have been alerted’. It is surely not unreasonable to expect internet companies to be as vigilant against terrorism as they are against paedophilia.

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