House Democrat urges Trump to address online extremism at UN

House Democrat urges Trump to address online extremism at UN
© Greg Nash

Rep. Max RoseMax RoseBottom Line The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies Trump pushed for her ouster Dem lawmaker rips O'Rourke: 'I don't think losing is cool' MORE (D-N.Y.) is urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE to address the issue of online extremism at the United Nations General Assembly this month, according to a letter provided exclusively to The Hill.

The New York Democrat, who heads the House Homeland Security Committee's counterterrorism panel, said the president and the United Nations should push the social media companies to invest in their efforts to stop extremist content from spreading.

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"I know you share my concerns that terrorists are using social media to spread their ideologies across the world, to recruit future terrorists, to find funding, and to plan and disseminate terrorist attacks," Rose wrote in the letter to Trump.

In the wake of the El Paso, Texas, shooting last month, which left 22 dead and dozens injured, the White House has been honing in on the issue of online radicalization while Democrats have pushed for new gun control legislation.

In the letter, Rose said the top social media companies could stave off the spread of extremist content by building out the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), a 2017 initiative by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube aimed at curbing the spread of Islamic terrorist content online.

Right now, the GIFCT is mainly an effort by the companies to share digital footprints for specific pieces of terrorist content. But Rose is pushing to build it into its own organization with a dedicated staff.

"As you and senior administration officials seek to make progress to counter online terrorist content at the United Nations General Assembly later this month, I urge you to support efforts to make the GIFCT a real non-governmental organization with an executive director, a dedicated staff, and a physical office," Rose wrote.

"They should commit to develop industry standards along with increasing their cooperation with each other and their transparency with the public," he added.

The El Paso shooter allegedly posted an anti-immigrant manifesto online before launching the attack at a Walmart near the U.S.-Mexico border in August, marking the third time this year a shooter has been implicated in fringe online communities known as a breeding ground for white supremacist views.

"The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online consumed by racist hate," Trump said at the time. "We must recognize that the internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds and perform demented acts."

The White House held a roundtable on online extremism with top social media companies in August, though Trump did not attend. 

The White House did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.