- The Washington Times - Monday, December 7, 2015

Social media companies as Twitter and Facebook have been purging pro-Islamic State accounts, but politicians are pushing Silicon Valley to ratchet up efforts even more in the wake of several high-profile terrorist attacks.

The White House plans to meet with tech industry representatives in the coming days to develop a “clearer understanding of when we believe social media is being used actively and operationally to promote terrorism,” a senior Obama administration official told Reuters this week on condition of anonymity.

The Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee will weigh a proposal Wednesday which involves combating the “terrorist use of social media.” 

The bill, authored by Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Republican, calls for “policy that enhances the exchange of information and dialogue between the federal government and social media companies as it relates to the use of social media platforms by terrorists.”

“If we’re going to prevent additional attacks, President Obama is going to have to lay out the broad, overarching strategy. … And in the House, we’re committed to providing the support needed,” committee Chairman Ed Royce said in a statement.

Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, implored the tech sector for help during a Sunday speech.

“We need to put the great disrupters at work at disrupting ISIS. We need Silicon Valley not to view government as its adversary. We need to challenge our best minds in the private sector and work with our best minds in the public sector to develop solutions that would both keep us safe and protect our privacy,” Mrs. Clinton said, referring to the Islamic State by an acronym, The New York Times reported. “You are going to hear all the familiar complaints: ‘freedom of speech.’”

The calls for removing the Islamic State from social media haven’t landed on deaf ears, however. Reuters reported that representatives with some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names — including Facebook, Google and Twitter — expressed concerns over acknowledging “their true level of cooperation with Western law enforcement agencies.”

Although those companies largely claim that they treat federal complaints the same as ones from by the general public, workarounds exist to expedite federal requests, former employees, activists and government officials told Reuters.

“There is no place for terrorists on Facebook,” Facebook spokesman Andrew Souvall told Wired last month. “We work aggressively to ensure that we do not have terrorists or terror groups using the site, and we also remove any content that praises or supports terrorism.”

Twitter said it “continues to strongly support freedom of expression and diverse perspectives” but also has “clear rules governing what is permissible” and that users are prohibited from making threats or promoting violence or terrorism, Wired reported.

Government officials and experts agree that social networks have become a breeding ground for extremists, particularly the Islamic State, which continues to take credit for terrorist attacks worldwide.

FBI Director James Comey said recently that the group’s message is “resonating” on social media with women younger than 18, and that it has been propagating its ideologies through upwards of tens of thousands of Internet accounts during any given time.

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