Sun says Google failure to eradicate online extremism 'has led directly to mass murder'

The Sun has blamed Google for the Manchester bombing attack that claimed 22 lives because it says terrorist Salman Abedi learned how to build a bomb on Youtube, which is owned by the company.

In a leader column today, the paper warned that the “arrogant and over-mighty web giants” Facebook and Google would not “eradicate extremism on their sites without being forced to”.

It said: “Facebook and Google have had endless chances. Their failure to act has led directly to mass murder. Through Youtube, Salman Abedi built the bomb with which he slaughtered 22 in Manchester.”

The comment from The Sun comes after sister paper The Times reported last week that it had learnt that Albedi used videos from Youtube and other websites to help to build his suicide bomb.

It also follows criticism by Max Hill QC, the UK’s terror legislation watchdog, of government proposals to fine tech companies millions of pounds for failing to remove obviously illegal content from their sites within a set time period.

He said: “I struggle to see how it would help if our parliament were to criminalise tech company bosses who ‘don’t do enough’. How do we measure ‘enough’? What is the appropriate sanction?

“We do not live in China, where the internet simply goes dark for millions when government so decides. Our democratic society cannot be treated that way.”

In its leader column today, The Sun said Hill “seems more worried about the alleged risk to democracy while silencing the madmen who turn hotheads into killers”.

The paper also said it backed the German parliament’s recent decision to pass a law giving the country the power to fine social networks, such as Facebook and Youtube, up to £44m (€50m) if they do not remove “evidently unlawful” hateful material within 24 hours.

In a blog post addressing the steps it was taking to fight online terrorism, Google said: “Terrorism is an attack on open societies, and addressing the threat posed by violence and hate is a critical challenge for us all. Google and Youtube are committed to being part of the solution.

“We are working with government, law enforcement and civil society groups to tackle the problem of violent extremism online. There should be no place for terrorist content on our services.

“While we and others have worked for years to identify and remove content that violates our policies, the uncomfortable truth is that we, as an industry, must acknowledge that more needs to be done. Now.”

The web giant said it had “thousands of people around the world” who review and counter the abuse of its platforms and that it had pledged four additional counter measures, including:

  • Increasing use of technology to help identify extremist and terrorism-related videos
  • Increasing the number of independent experts flagging “problematic” content on Youtube
  • Taking a tougher stance on videos that do not clearly violate its policies
  • Expanding its role in counter-radicalisation efforts

Google said tackling online terrorism was a “sweeping and complex challenge”, but added: “We are committed to playing our part”.

Picture: Reuters