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Online video games used to spread extremism, prepare attacks, EU anti-terror chief warns

Online video games can be used to propagate extremist ideologies and even prepare attacks, the EU’s anti-terrorism coordinator told AFP in an interview in which he urged more regulation.

The official, Gilles de Kerchove, made the argument ahead of the European Commission’s presentation on December 9 of a proposed Digital Services Act that aims to rein in Big Tech excesses and internet hate speech.

“I’m not saying that all the gaming sector is a problem. There are two billion people playing online, and that’s all very well,” said de Kerchove, a Belgian appointed to his post 13 years ago.

But, he warned, “you have extreme-right groups in Germany that have come up with games where the aim is to shoot Arabs, or [Hungarian-born US Jewish billionaire George] Soros, or Mrs. [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel for her migration policy, etc.”

De Kerchove also raised concerns over “algorithmic amplification,” where platforms such as Facebook and YouTube put “problematic” and “borderline” content up high, exploiting emotional reactions to boost user engagement.

This is one aspect the EU executive wants to tackle in its Digital Services Act by demanding more transparency from digital titans. The European Parliament is also discussing a proposal which would require content deemed to have a terrorist character deleted online within one hour.

The fight against terrorism has shot up the EU agenda since recent jihadist attacks in France and Austria.

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