‘Far-right’ extremism has reached unprecedented levels of organisation thanks to social media platforms, security experts have warned.
MI5’s Director General and the Metropolitan Police’s commissioner identified ‘far-right’ terrorism as a significant threat in a statement to the Times yesterday.
Speaking to talkRADIO’s John Nicolson, the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies director Anthony Glees said social media “aided and abetted” ‘far-right’ extremism.
Mr Glees said: “The significant and concerning change is the extreme right is now organised in the United Kingdom in a way it has not been for years.
“The first source of organisation for right-wing extremism is the ability of right-wing extremists to communicate with each other using social media, particularly Facebook but many other social media platforms as well.
“You might not have a large number of people, we may not be talking about tens of thousands but their ability to constitute a threat to our peaceful democratic way of life in this country is aided and abetted by the use of social media.”
Social media platforms have taken steps to restrict accounts promoting hate speech, with Facebook announcing it would be removing content relating to ‘white nationalism’ from its platform.
The social network banned former EDL frontman Tommy Robinson earlier this year, while YouTube has demonetised Mr Robinson’s account.
Mr Glees said he believed the Brexit crisis could lead to 'far-right' extremists to infiltrate mainstream political movements.
"A lot of people who voted to get out of the EU did so because they weren’t sure they were English any longer," Mr Glees said.
"People’s identity is something they feel uncertain about and that gives the far-right an opportunity to come in as they have in recent history.
"I’m not saying that people who voted for Brexit are extreme right-wing fanatics but some extreme right-wing fanatics are also Brexit supporters."