Saipov, ISIS and Growing Violent Online Extremism in Pakistan

ISIS and similar terrorist organizations have been using social media for spreading radical propaganda online. The trove of ISIS images and videos found on the cell phone of New York City terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov once again demonstrated the ubiquity of online radicalizing materials and the ongoing unwillingness of governments and tech companies to take necessary steps to address the alarming issue. 
According to forensic evidence obtained from Saipov’s cell phone by law enforcement officials it contained more than 4,000 extremists images and around 90 terror related videos, many of which contained propoganda material such as ISIS fighters killing innocent prisoners and running over them with a tank or making kids slaughter foreign spies. 
The murders in New York are the continuation of a sad series of tragedies fueled by the presence of violent extremist content online that has been radicalizing youth in countries like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. 
The government believes that in the interest of public safety, it is important that tech companies like Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook, YouTube, Google and many others should be held accountable of misuse of their platforms and should be blocked as they are siding with terror organizations by facilitating them in spreading propoganda under the guise of freedom of expression. They are also of the view that Tech companies soaring profits should be utilized to address the issue and they need to do more to counter the menace. Facebook’s profits climbed 79 percent year-over-year to $4.7 billion and they should be spending some of the millions to counter the negative use of its platform.
On the other hand tech companies are of the view that they are doing everything in their power to counter the meance from deploying AI monitoring system for detecting violent content towards manually documenting and sharing information with law enforcement agencies for surging the presence of extremist and terrorist materials online. 
Pakistan has been at the forefront of war against extremists and has resorted to the policy of blocking URLs for the permanent removal of violent and dangerous extremist content. The success of the approach is itself questionable given it has hardly been able to control the spreading of propaganda online. Further this approach has also faced criticism from rights advocates and human rights organization as a tool to crack hard on dissent in Balochistan and KPK. 
Given the complex nature of cyber propaganda the government needs to change its approach and involve tech companies and rights organizations in adopting 21cn strategies to counter radical extremists content online. Killing the messenger has been an ineffective strategy to counter the growing menace. Unless, a long term strategy is not adopted online extremism and radicalization of youth on the internet is set to grow in Pakistan at an alarming rate.