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Tech giants say they’ll do more to curb the spread of extremist content online

Google is one of the tech companies that said it will consider a forum to combat online extremism.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft have reportedly agreed to create “technical tools to identify and remove terrorist propaganda” after meeting with UK home secretary Amber Rudd who had publicly criticized the privacy policies of such players earlier this week.

According to The Telegraph, the tech giants said they would consider options for a cross-industry forum to accelerate the removal of extremist content online.

Rudd invited executives from these companies to a meeting at the Home Office after last week's Westminster Jihadist attack raised questions about what role tech companies should play to help counter militant extremism if their platforms are used by such dissidents.

The report claims executives from some of the biggest brands on the internet have agreed to consider a forum, as well as to share their collective expertise with younger internet companies to help curb extremists' use of their platforms.

MPs on the Home Affairs select committee, however, criticized Rudd for not calling on the tech industry to do more to “stop the dangerous illegal poison spreading online” and not simply pay “lip service”, according to the report.

Rudd also called for the government and the tech industry to work together on the issue of encryption and agreed to address the issue further at a separate meeting.

This comes the same week as Rudd made similar comments to BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, saying WhatsApp (which Westminster attacker Khalid Masood reportedly used minutes before his fatal actions) "[shouldn’t] provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other”.

This is not the first time such players have faced criticism from the UK government, which in 2011 during widespread civil disturbance was hauled in front of government representatives to discuss how they could help facilitate attempts to stop the widespread unrest.

For instance Twitter and BBM-owner BlackBerry were both quizzed by the then UK coalaition government over the use of their social media channels during the London Riots of 2011.

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Lisa Lacy

Lisa Lacy is a senior reporter for The Drum, covering digital and search marketing. Based in New York, she writes about how brands use technology to connect with consumers, particularly as innovations like voice search, digital assistants and the Internet of Things change consumers’ lives forever – not to mention the data these platforms increasingly collect and the security and privacy issues therein. She is a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism. Her bucket list includes riding in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

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