Politicians language fuels extremists grooming young people online, terror expert says

5 November 2019, 09:08 | Updated: 5 November 2019, 15:03

Experts have said smaller social media sites have seen content targeting younger people
Experts have said smaller social media sites have seen content targeting younger people. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A terror expert has told LBC News the behaviour of politicians is leading to a rise in violent extremists grooming young people online in Scotland.

Smaller social media channels, such as TikTok and Telegram are said to be experiencing a rise in the number of propaganda videos targeted at radicalising children.

And we're told violent language used by MPs is making it worse, with terrorists becoming persistent.

Director of Tech Against Terrorism Adam Hadley spoke to LBC News about his concerns.

He said the law was not applied in a "consistent" way, adding politicians can "talk about violence in a reckless fashion," which the expert branded "very unhelpful."

Citing attacks on politicians in the UK Mr Hadley said: "Certainly political discourse has a role in all of this."

He said "the political class need to be more responsible in how they discuss some of these issues."

Six years ago, Glasgow student Aqua Mahmoud fled the UK to marry into Daesh, before using online platforms to recruit others from the UK, including Shamima Begum.

Human Rights lawyer Aamer Anwar represents Aqsa’s family, who condemned what she did from the outset.

With the UK reducing the terror threat level, the terror expert said: "Brexit and the rise of the far-right" in politics is leading an increase of extremists using social media platforms to groom and radicalise young people in the UK.

Adam Hadley from Tech Against Terrorism made the claims saying while bigger online platforms are working to reduce and remove content, smaller sites like Telegram, 4-Chan and even Tik Tok to an extent are still seeing a great deal of ‘glamourised’ content targeting children and young people.

He said when officials were trying to push terrorists and extremists off social media "we have to ask ourselves what are they going to do next?"

He said they will move to smaller platforms and adapt to changes in regulation.

The Home Office says tackling terrorist content online is a core part of the UK's counter-terrorism strategy

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We know that terrorists exploit the internet in order to spread propaganda and to plan and prepare for attacks.

“This is why tackling terrorist content online is a core part of the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy – known as CONTEST.

"The government continues to monitor and disrupt groups, including from the far right, far left and Islamist, whose ideology goes against our culture and values.”

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