Nov 23, 2018

British MPs urge boycott of Google, Facebook over terrorist content

Photo: Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Advertisers should boycott tech giants like Google and Facebook to force them to effectively address the "scandal" of online terrorist content, members of UK's Parliament said, according to The Times of London.

The big picture: Social networks and web companies are under pressure around the world to police extremist content on their sites that facilitate the spread of radicalized material. Despite hiring thousands of people to identify and quickly take down such content, staying ahead of malicious actors online has proven to be very difficult.

The backdrop: Salman Abedi, who killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last year, reportedly learned how to build a bomb by watching a YouTube video. Extremist content online may have helped radicalize attackers at London Bridge and Westminster, per the Daily Mirror.

What they're saying: Web companies have not done enough to take down extremist content and prevent terrorists from using their platforms as a "safe haven," MPs wrote in a report from the Intelligence and Security Committee, a parliamentary watchdog.

  • The report acknowledged the companies are engaging more on the issue, but have made "little tangible progress."
  • Appealing to the internet giants' sense of social responsibility hasn't worked, it says, so businesses should threaten to pull advertising to pull on "financial leavers" to force the platforms to listen.

Between the lines: Major brands such as Unilever and Proctor & Gamble have in the past threatened to pull advertising until the web platforms meaningfully dealt with fake news and divisive content. But with Google and Facebook commanding such huge user bases and such a large share of advertising spending, it's very difficult for marketers to abandon them.

Go deeper: Social media's new job: content cop

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Trump administration asks Congress for $2.5 billion to fight coronavirus

President Trump with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at the White House in September. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Trump administration sent a letter to Congress Monday requesting a funding commitment of at least $2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Details: The request for a lump sum account for the Department of Health and Human Services includes $1.25 billion in new funds to fight COVID-19 and $535 would come from untouched funds for the Ebola virus.

WHO won't call coronavirus a pandemic as cases spread

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The World Health Organization will not yet call the coronavirus a pandemic, claiming that needs across affected countries are too varied and the classification would increase fear, per a briefing Monday.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures in efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, WHO expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,620 people and infected almost 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

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The global scramble to contain the coronavirus

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The coronavirus is spreading quickly in cities nowhere near Wuhan, China, and the window to prevent a global pandemic is narrowing.

Zoom in: Here's a look at what comes with a coronavirus outbreak in communities outside China that have been hardest hit so far.

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