Theresa May confronts web giants over ‘weaponised’ tech fuelling far right rise

Theresa May will today tell social media giants they need to do more to confront the rise of the far right online.

At an international summit in Paris the Prime Minister will say world leaders should be “ambitious and steadfast” in their determination to ensure technology is not “weaponised” by those who wish to inflict pain and suffering.

New analysis from the Home Office reveals that one white nationalist and neo-Nazi discussion forum amassed more than 800,000 visists in just one month, with 10 per cent appearing to originate from the UK.

Ministers are concerned at how online platforms are being used to lure in a broader audience and expose them to Far Right material.

They want to tackle the extremist content before it reaches illegal terrorist thresholds.

Mrs May will tell leaders including New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern and France’s Emmanuel Macron that the response of tech giants to Daesh propaganda online showed what was possible.

She will add: “Our work here must continue in order to keep pace with the threat. But we also need to confront the rise of the Far Right online.”

The leaders are signing up to a “Christchurch Call” aimed at putting pressure on tech companies to remove material they say is harmful from their sites, while getting countries to pass and enforce laws to eradicate it.

The agreement is named after the New Zealand city where 51 worshippers were murdered at two mosques by a self-confessed white supremacist who live-streamed part of his attack on Facebook.

The UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland and Indonesia are among those expected to sign up but the US is thought to be holding out amid fears new laws could harm freedom of speech.

Former deputy PM Nick Clegg, now a senior executive for Facebook, will attend after the firm announced it would restrict people who have broken certain rules from using its live streaming feature. Twitter , Google and Microsoft chiefs will also be there.

Mrs May will say: “That 1.5 million copies of the video had to be removed by Facebook – and could still be found on YouTube for as long as eight hours after it was first posted – is a stark reminder that we need to do more, both to remove this content and stop it going online in the first place.”

The Government recently published a white paper around online harms which called for a statutory duty of care to be introduced for internet firms, which would be enforced by a new independent regulator.

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