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Home Secretary warns internet giants over extremist content

Internet giants meet in San Francisco on Tuesday. Credit: PA

The Home Secretary will challenge internet giants to do more to remove extremist content on a visit to Silicon Valley.

Amber Rudd will warn the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft that terrorists are misusing their platforms.

Major technology organisations have faced repeated calls to step up efforts to detect and take down terror-related videos and web pages, especially since a flurry of attacks in Britain over recent months.

Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism on Tuesday, Ms Rudd will highlight the work of a UK police unit which has secured the removal of 280,000 pieces of terrorist content and the closure of millions of accounts since 2010.

Outlining why the forum will be so important ahead of the meeting she also highlighted the fact that during the recent UK terror attacks there had been some online connection with almost everyone involved.

The Home Secretary will acknowledge the work technology firms have already done but emphasise that more needs to be done and the threat cannot be downplayed.

"Terrorists and extremists have sought to misuse your platforms to spread their hateful messages," Ms Rudd is expected to say.

She will add: "This Forum is a crucial way to start turning the tide.

"The responsibility for tackling this threat at every level lies with both governments and with industry.

"We have a shared interest: we want to protect our citizens and keep the free and open internet we all love. Today's meeting of the Forum is the next step towards achieving these goals."

Earlier this year, a committee of MPs accused social media firms of a "shameful" failure to tackle online terrorist propaganda and hate speech.

One UK police unit has removed 280,000 pieces of terrorist content from the internet. Credit: PA

The hard-hitting report by the Home Affairs Select Committee said "nowhere near enough is being done" to tackle the problem.

In June Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the country's most senior counter-terror officer, urged internet-based companies to "show more responsibility".

Britain and France are looking at plans that could see technology firms face fines if their efforts to tackle terrorist material are not up to scratch.

The proposals - unveiled by Theresa May and French president Emmanuel Macron in June - include exploring the possibility of creating a new legal liability for companies if they fail to remove unacceptable content.