Obama administration meets with social media to fight online terrorists

The Obama administration is trying to enlist the tech industry in obstructing Islamic extremists use of social media to incite violence and to recruit. Representatives from Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Linkedin were among those attending a meeting in San Jose last week. The tech industry is wary of doing the work of the federal government and violating free speech. The industry claims they are removing incitements to violence but do not want to infringe on speech. (AllGov, January 9, 2016, by Brandon Bailey and Julie Pace of the Associated Press with contributions from Josh Lederman and Michael Liedtke)

Hugh Handyside of the American Civil Liberties Union, January 12, 2016, writes that the federal government attempt to enlist social media companies in the fight on terrorism is misguided. He says that it is not feasible to eliminate the millions of photos, videos and tweets generated daily nor is it easy to distinguish analyses and reporting from actual terrorist threats. Handeyside also argues that censoring terrorists with content flagging tools would do great harm. “The free flow of information fosters issue literacy and leads to the kind of critical thought necessary for the rejection of racist or violence-inducing narratives. And limiting or censoring speech only puts it out of sight, not out of the minds of those who speak it,” he writes. “Ultimately, censorship makes censored speech all the more dangerous, because we lose our most powerful tool in combating ideas with which we disagree: the ability to identify them and respond with better ideas.”