UK counter-terrorism chief blames mainstream media for helping to radicalise extremists

Mainstream media is being blamed for radicalising far-right terrorists, according to Britain's counter-terrorism chief.

One of Britain's top police officers, Neil Basu, told The Guardian it is ironic that newspapers such as the Sun and the Mirror criticise Facebook and Google for hosting extremist content, while rushing to upload clips of footage filmed by the alleged gunman as he attacked two mosques in Christchurch.

"The same media companies who have lambasted social media platforms for not acting fast enough to remove extremist content are simultaneously publishing uncensored Daesh [Islamic State] propaganda on their websites, or make the rambling 'manifestos' of crazed killers available for download," Basu said in an open letter to the media on how to report terrorism.

Basu singled out the Mail Online for uploading the alleged gunman's 74-page manifesto to its website, making the document available to download.

Basu told the Guardian it was time to accept that terrorists are being radicalised by mainstream media.

"The reality is that every terrorist we have dealt with has sought inspiration from the propaganda of others, and when they can't find it on Facebook, YouTube, Telegram or Twitter they only have to turn on the TV, read the paper or go to one of a myriad of mainstream media websites struggling to compete with those platforms."

"Society needs to look carefully at itself. We cannot simply hide behind the mantra of freedom of speech. That freedom is not an absolute right, it is not the freedom to cause harm - that is why our hate speech legislation exists," Basu said.