Lead Forensics

Fighting terrorist content online: insights from the FRISCO Project

In today’s digital age, there’s been a troubling increase in how terrorists exploit the internet, which has become a major concern for both online and offline security (OECD, 2022). Facebook alone removed a record 16 million pieces of terrorist propaganda in the first quarter of 2022, along with over 13 million instances of hate speech. The internet has become a crucial tool for terrorists to spread propaganda, communicate, fundraise, and recruit new members, with serious real-world consequences.

Combatting Terrorist Content Online: The FRISCO Project’s Midway Insights

The FRISCO project was initiated as part of a larger effort to address the dissemination of terrorist content online in line with the European Union Terrorist Online Content (TCO) regulation. The project helps Hosting Service Providers (HSPs) to be compliant with the TCO and be better equipped to identify and remove terrorist content on their platforms. Tremau is part of the FRISCO consortium along with 7 partners from 6 European countries – Demokritos, the Violence Prevention Network (VPN), the European Digital Learning Network (D-Learn), the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH), the French Ministry of Interior, and the Association of IT provider in Hungary (IVSZ).

The mission of the FRISCO project is to offer practical solutions that help Hosting Service Providers (HSPs) build robust processes and policies to address and combat terrorist use of their services while raising awareness about terrorist content online and compliance with the TCO regulation.

Enhancing Online Safety: Key Learnings and Future Directions from FRISCO

At the start of the two-year project, FRISCO conducted a study to map and understand general awareness amongst HSPs of terrorist use of the internet and the  TCO regulation. FRISCO created and distributed a self-assessment questionnaire to evaluate awareness of and readiness to comply with the TCO. Alongside this, FRISCO created a process map to provide a comprehensive overview of the TCO regulation outlining the core requirements needed to be compliant with the regulation. Finally, FRISCO is developing a content moderation tool,a cloud-based software solution that takes into account the requirements of the TCO in terms of process. 

  • The mapping report and initial research done to understand HSP awareness and compliance with the EU TCO produced three key takeaways. Micro and small HSPs have limited awareness of the TCO Regulation and its requirements. By comparison, we found that HSPs are more aware of the Digital Services Act (DSA) than the TCO regulation. Despite a lack of awareness and compliance readiness with the TCO, most HSPs perceive themselves as at low-risk for terrorist exploitation.

Awareness regarding the TCO regulation


Awareness regarding the DSA

  • Many small and micro HSPs are missing the core infrastructure needed to identify, monitor, and remove terrorist content. TCO-required measures such as complaint mechanisms, automated classifiers, points of contact and transparency reports are only rarely implemented by theHSPs surveyed.
  • Small and micro HSPs lack sufficient resources to build processes to identify and remove terrorist content. This also affects their ability to invest in developing the right processes and implementing tools, not just for regulatory obligations but for their own business needs.

A majority of the responding HSPs have not set up tools and processes to be compliant with the TCO Regulation. More broadly, this reflects the fact that only approximately 20% of the HSPs responding to our online survey moderate all content generated by users in their services. 

Practice regarding moderation of content

Although fighting terrorist content online is an important dimension of a safe online ecosystem, other types of abusive or illegal content are captured by other regulations and even have a higher prevalence.. Indeed, terrorist content is only one type of online content but the methods used to fight it can be integrated as part of wider policies and practices. For instance, the Digital Services Act in the European Union or the Online Safety Act in the UK are imposing different obligations on online platforms. These obligations encompass broader aspects of content moderation processes and trust and safety policies. As such, the development of tools for fighting terrorist content online can be a good, and necessary, starting point for a more vertical approach to regulatory compliance and overall platform safety.

Tremau is proud to be part of the FRISCO initiative, as the effort to counter terrorist use of the internet is necessarily multi-stakeholder and cross-sector. No HSP should be left alone to create processes and policies to reach compliance and improve online safety. Discover the valuable resources available in the FRISCO toolbox, offering insights into FRISCO’s dedicated efforts for precisely this purpose. 


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