POSTPONED: Social Media and Terrorist Finance: Vulnerabilities and Responses

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This event will assess what role social media platforms could or should be playing within the counter-terrorist finance (CTF) architecture in place today.

Social media companies face increased pressure from leaders to take a greater responsibility in the combating of terrorism and extremism. The debate has largely centred on the ease with which extremist content can be promoted and distributed on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Against the backdrop of a number of successful terrorist attacks in Europe and the proliferation of social media usage, it is no surprise that leaders have turned their attention towards these platforms.

Little attention has however been given to the more specific, but undeniable vulnerability of social media being used as a tool to facilitate terrorist financing (TF). There is growing evidence of instances in which social media sites are being exploited by terrorist groups to raise funds from individuals worldwide who are sympathetic to terrorist causes. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has noted that ‘social networks are being used to coordinate fundraising campaigns. Large-scale and well-organised fundraising schemes aimed at TF may involve up to several thousand ‘sponsors’ and may raise significant amounts of cash.’ The rise of crowdfunding campaigns (often posing as charitable and humanitarian causes) that are primarily disseminated via social media also requires greater scrutiny.

Failure to understand these vulnerabilities risks creating a dangerous blind spot in our response to present day terrorist fundraising methodologies. In turn, this deepened knowledge could present an immense intelligence opportunity for law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies and private sector actors working in partnership.

This breakfast briefing will discuss these themes, assessing what role social media platforms could or should be playing within the counter-terrorist finance (CTF) architecture in place today, which was designed long before social media was in existence. Questions for consideration will include:   

  • What are the TF vulnerabilities presented by social media, and how we respond?

  • Should social media service providers be subject to the same obligations as the financial sector, who are obliged to report TF suspicion to law enforcement?

  • Could law enforcement and the security and intelligence agencies be making better use of the financial intelligence that can be gleaned from social media platforms?

  • What would a more joined-up approach look like in practice, bearing in mind necessary debates around privacy and proportionality?

Unfortunately this event has been postponed and we will let you know the new date shortly.

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