“It is imperative that social media companies do more to prevent extremist groups from weaponizing the internet in pursuit of new recruits or to convince individuals to carry out violent attacks in their home countries,” Ibsen said on Monday.
Early on Sunday, 29 year-old Omar Mateen opened fire in a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando killing 49 people before he was shot and killed by authorities. Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey said on Monday that Mateen espoused support for a number of extremist terror groups, including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
In a speech on Sunday, President Obama indicated that the shooter was inspired by various extremist information disseminated over the Internet.
“It is likely that [Mateen] was self-radicalized by watching ISIS videos and reading the group’s propaganda, which points to the easy availability of pro-ISIS propaganda on the internet and on social media platforms,” Ibsen explained.
He noted that the Islamic State and other groups have been successful in “exploiting the internet” using social media sites to “radicalize, recruit and incite to violence.” In light of their success over the internet, social media companies should “do more to rid their sites of violent extremists,” Ibsen advised.
The Counter Extremism Project has repeatedly called on social media companies to do more to prevent terrorist messaging on the website and encouraged lawmakers to address the issue. CEP launched a digital disruption campaign, monitoring posts in French, German, Italian, Turkish, Arabic and English, and has identified hundreds of social media accounts for removal.
The FBI investigation into Mateen has reportedly included a thorough review of his activity on social media, where he professed support for a host of different extremists groups. Mateen was previously investigated by the FBI in 2013 due to inflammatory comments he made to coworkers.
The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) is a nonprofit international policy organization formed to combat the growing threat from extremist ideology. CEP is led by a renowned group of former world leaders and diplomats, according to its website.