Obama addresses the nation in a speech in his Oval Office following last week's shootings

Obama wants to stop terrorists using social media

US President Barack Obama has called on technology firms to help address the threat of militant groups using social media and electronic communications to plan and promote violence and terrorist activities.

Last week, office workers were killed in a shooting by US-born Syed Rizwan Farook and his spouse, Tashfeen Malik, a native of Pakistan.

The attack was carried out on a holiday party for civil servants in San Bernardino, approximately 100km east of Los Angeles and 14 died in the incident. The attackers were killed two hours after the event in a shootout with police.

The shootings have reinvigorated a long-running debate about Washington's digital surveillance effort to find and capture violent extremists.

"I will urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice," Obama said.

The White House wants tech firms to restrict the use of social media for violent ends, a senior administration official said on Sunday.

"In coming days, the White House will talk to companies in the sector about developing a ‘clearer understanding of when we believe social media is being used actively and operationally to promote terrorism,’ said the official.

Obama sees the need for the sector to work with law enforcement when the use of social media "crosses the line" from expressing views "into active terrorist plotting".

The Republican-led Foreign Affairs Committee will consider legislation on Wednesday calling for more details from Obama on a strategy "to combat terrorist use of social media".

There have also been calls to weaken encryption to make it easier for the government to monitor communications.

However, this proposal has met fierce opposition from technology companies and privacy advocates, who warn that weaker encryption would expose data to malicious hackers and undermine the internet's integrity.

In addition, some lawmakers are expected to argue for the revival of legislation that would require social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to inform the government about posts deemed to promote 'terrorist activity'.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have reportedly taken down more terrorist propaganda in the past year than ever before.

Social media such as the messaging platform Telegram were used for communication by the terrorists who orchestrated the attacks in Paris last month that led to the deaths of 130 people.

The attacks were reportedly supported by Islamic State and the hacking group Anonymous launched a number of attacks on social media accounts identified as belonging to terrorists which resulted in many of them being shut down.

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