Removing extremist online material

Published: 29th Mar 2017

In brief


250,000 pieces of extremist material have been taken down from the Internet since February 2010.


As of 21 December 2016, 249,091 pieces of extremist content have been taken down by the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit, according to official figures.

 “250,000 pieces of [extremist] material have been taken down since February 2010 from the Internet.”

Theresa May, 29 March 2017

It’s the job of one particular police unit to “instigate” the removal of extremist material from the Internet where it breaches internet companies’ terms of service, or the law.

The unit’s latest figures show about 250,000 pieces of such material have been taken down since 2010.

The Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) was set up in 2010. It identifies extremist and terrorist material online.

Members of the public can also report content to be examined by the CTIRU. The Unit then asks internet companies to remove such material.

The guidance gives the following examples of terrorist or extremist content:

  • Articles, images, speeches or videos that promote terrorism or encourage violence
  • Content encouraging people to commit acts of terrorism
  • Websites made by terrorists or extremist organisations
  • Videos of terrorist attacks

As of 21 December 2016 the CTIRU said that it had taken down 249,091 pieces of extremist content since 2010. Almost half were taken down in 2016.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of Prime Minister's Questions. Read the roundup.


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