TAORMINA – Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies on Friday put pressure on internet companies and social media sites to do more to stop the spread of “hateful ideology,” appealing to their sense of social responsibility to more swiftly identify and remove terror propaganda.
The measure signed by the seven nations’ leaders was a show of solidarity with Britain following Monday’s suicide bombing in Manchester, England that killed 22 outside a pop music concert. The Islamic State group claimed the attack, although authorities are working to establish the bombing suspect’s ties to extremist organizations.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said the leaders agreed that the threat posed by the Islamic State group “is evolving rather than disappearing.”
“As they lose ground in Iraq and Syria, foreign fighters are returning, and the group’s hateful ideology is spreading online,” May said. “Make no mistake, the fight is moving from the battlefield to the internet.”
She said terror propaganda is “warping young minds” and that she thinks technology companies both could do more and have the responsibility to act.
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) May 26, 2017
In their declaration, the leaders said they were targeting “propaganda supporting terrorism and violent extremism, online recruitment by extremists, radicalization and incitement to violence.” They said they would work also with youth and religious leaders, prisons and educational institutions toward that end.
They also agreed in the declaration to strengthen the process for returning foreign fighters operating in Europe to their countries of origin, to better share intelligence on individuals who have trained in Islamic State territory, and to do more to cut off funding streams they called “the lifeblood of violent extremists and terrorists.”
The G-7 leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, on Friday also discussed climate and trade.
At the close of the day’s talks, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said six of the G-7 nations — Italy, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and Japan — confirmed “our commitment and our determination” to the Paris Agreement establishing goals for reducing greenhouse gases.
The United States, meanwhile, confirmed “a period of reflection” on the issue, he said.
Trump’s pending review of U.S. climate policies and decision not to make up his mind before the Taormina summit has braced environmentalists for the possibility of bland language that says little after years of increasingly stronger commitments to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and emissions under the Paris Agreement.
“What we do not want to see is a false compromise on nothing,” Tobias Muenchmeyer, a political expert for Greenpeace, said. “We want to see determination and commitment over unity,” with the other partners going ahead without the United States.