Will a reduction of extremist content online really reduce the terror threat while catastrophic conditions persist in Syria, Iraq and Libya?

Theresa May called on technology companies to go “further and faster” in taking down extremist content at the UN on Wednesday. “Ultimately it is not just the terrorists themselves who we need to defeat,” the British prime minister said. “It is the extremist ideologies that fuel them.”

The proliferation of extremist material online is a significant problem that we need to challenge. However, May’s remarks are based on the common yet misguided assumption that extreme ideological material, and its availability on the internet, is what drives terrorism.

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