The Role of Internet Intermediaries in Tackling Terrorism Online

By Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Gatekeeping is defined as the work of third parties “who are able to disrupt misconduct by withholding their cooperation from wrongdoers.”1 Internet intermediaries need to be far more proactive as gatekeepers than they are now. Socially responsible measures can prevent the translation of violent thoughts into violent actions. Designated monitoring mechanisms can potentially prevent such unfortunate events. This Article suggests an approach that harnesses the strengths and capabilities of the public and private sectors in offering practical solutions to pressing problems. It proposes that internet intermediaries should fight stringently against terror and further argues that a responsible gatekeeping approach is good for business.

Part I defines terror. Next, Part II discusses the role of social networking sites in facilitating terror and argues that principles of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should dictate censorship of online terror. Part III shows that the great internet companies are slowly coming to understand that with great power comes great responsibility. Part IV then argues that internet intermediaries have a role to play beyond providing a platform to anyone with something to say. Social responsibility dictates some minimal standards of gatekeeping without which mayhem and destruction will ensue unabated. The policy of “anything goes” is self-defeating and irresponsible. Internet companies are expected to show readiness to work with governments to hinder terror activities. The industry should be encouraged to be proactive.