Australia will spend $22 million to combat extremist propaganda on the internet and social media over the next four years.
That’s $4 million more than attorney-general pledged back in February for social media monitoring and “analysis capability to better understand extremist narratives and how they affect Australians”.
The budget says the funding is aimed at reducing the ability of terrorist groups to “nurture” extremists online. It’s not quite clear who will drive this, but the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the private sector, and international partners in implementing these new measures.
The governement has also set up a website to report extremist material online and is also planning to run online counter-terrorist measures rebutting extremism and “shares the benefits of Australia’s diversity, inclusion, democracy and social values”.
The online radicalisation of youth by Islamic State operatives — in some cases inspiring them to leave their home countries to travel to the Middle East — has been a growing crisis for the West.
Australia has been particularly concerned with one of Australia’s most wanted terrorists, Khaled Sharrouf, using Twitter to proclaim the martyrdom of Australian-born fighters in Syria and Iraq.
Since last year the government put forward legislative changes and $630 million worth of counter-terrorism funding to deal the emerging threats arising from the involvement of Australians in the ISIS-led conflicts in the Middle East.
This latest budget commitment by the federal government to target online terrorism follows similar talks being held in the US.
This month, the US government hosted a panel called “Jihad 2.0: Social Media in the Next Evolution of Terrorist Recruitment.” Read more about that here.
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