A 48-hour international operation against online terrorism and extremism has seen over 2 000 items assessed as harmful and illegal material with the purpose of referring it to the online service providers for removal from the internet.
On 25 and 26 April 2017, Europol’s Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) teamed up with colleagues from Belgium, Greece, Poland, Portugal and US to identify and secure the swift removal of terrorist and violent extremism content online. Hosted at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, the teams jointly targeted accounts used by terrorist groups to radicalise, recruit, direct terrorist activities.
As a result, 2 068 such pieces of content in 6 languages were accessed for the purpose of referral, hosted on 52 online platforms.
This coordinated hit 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, publications and glorifying or supporting terrorism and extremism.
The efforts made by numerous online platforms to remove inappropriate content have driven supporters of terrorist groups to simultaneously use multiple platforms to promote terrorism and incite violence. They have also been searching for new service providers to make sure their messages reach potential supporters. A growing interest for platforms that do not require identification can be witnessed. During this campaign, the participants identified a new platform that appears to be set up by terrorist networks themselves for not only spreading propaganda, but also financing their activities. This and other content analysed during the campaign have triggered further operational cooperation between Europol and the participating countries with the aim of identifying modus operandi of terrorist networks online.
The final removal of the referred material is a voluntary activity carried out by the concerned service providers, in accordance with their own terms and conditions.