On 11 January 2018, Europol’s Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) organised the eighth joint Referral Action Day with colleagues from the national referral units of Belgium, France and the United Kingdom, to identify and secure the swift removal of terrorist and violent extremism content uploaded on Facebook and Instagram. The intensive referral campaign was hosted at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague and targeted content by terrorist groups and terrorist sympathisers, aiming at radicalising, recruiting and propagating terrorist activities.
During this day, the specialised law enforcement units performed a qualitative assessment of several hundreds of pieces of suspected terrorist propaganda, detecting emerging patterns in terrorist abuse of the online platforms as well as shifting trends in the dissemination of terrorist propaganda, namely the rise of user-generated content as opposed to "official" propaganda by terrorist organisations.
Europol’s EU IRU and national IRU’s in the European Union cooperate with Facebook in the framework of the EU Internet Forum, run by the EU Commission, with the objective of restricting availability of online content that promotes terrorism or incites violence.
Facebook attended this joint action in The Hague, standing by its stated commitment "to remove terrorists and posts that support terrorism" whenever they become aware of them and "make their platforms a hostile place for terrorists".
This coordinated action against online terrorist propaganda focused mainly on the online production of terrorist materials by IS and al-Qaeda affiliated media outlets. Among the items referred were propaganda videos and publications glorifying or supporting terrorism and extremism. The final removal of the referred material is a voluntary activity by the concerned social media platforms, taking into consideration their own terms and conditions.
During the Referral Action days, Europol promotes a coordinated approach to fight terrorist propaganda online. Similar joint actions, involving EU Member States and online industry partners, will continue to be organised on a regular basis.