14 countries tackle violent extremism online in a coordinated referral action day

On 15 December 2022, the European Union Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) at Europol coordinated the second Referral Action Day (RAD) against violent right-wing extremist and terrorist content online. The coordinated action involved specialised units from 14 countries, including 13 EU Member States (MS) and one non-EU country*.

The participating authorities were involved in detecting and flagging terrorist content to online service providers and evaluating their responses. The activities resulted in the referral of 831 items to 34 affected platforms. Referred materials include content produced by or favouring proscribed right-wing extremist organisations. It also includes content disseminated in relation to terrorist attacks motivated by violent extremism. Such materials include livestreams, manifestos, claims and celebrations of attacks. 

Violent extremism still a growing concern since Bratislava and Buffalo

Since the first Referral Action Day targeting this type of online content in 2021, the threat posed by violent extremism and terrorism is still on the rise. The terror attacks in Buffalo (USA) and Bratislava (Slovakia) illustrated a concerning proliferation of violent right-wing extremist and terrorist activities on a global scale. The perpetrators of these attacks were part of transnational online communities and took inspiration from other violent right-wing extremists and terrorists. In their manifestos, terrorist actors have highlighted the pivotal role of online propaganda in the radicalisation process. This shows how the abuse of the internet continues to be an important aspect of violent right-wing radicalisation and recruitment. 

RADs consolidate law enforcement’s efforts to tackle the creation and dissemination of violent extremist and terrorist propaganda online. During the coordinated activities, the participants refer content linked to propaganda material to online service providers, inviting them to evaluate and remove the content breaching their terms of service. The platforms are invited to reinforce their moderation protocols to avoid this type of abuse in the future.