Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube join hands to curb ‘terrorist content’

By : |December 6, 2016 0

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube have decided to work jointly on a plan to curb the spread of terrorist content online, the tech giants announced yesterday.

The quartet said that together they will create a shared industry database that will be used to identify this content, including what they describe as the “most extreme and egregious terrorist images and videos” that have been removed from their respective services.

All photo and video content being uploaded to the participating services will have its hash automatically checked against the database. If it matches a hash already stored there, the database will send the company to which the content has been uploaded a notification so that it can be manually reviewed for possible removal, Facebook said in a statement.

“We hope this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online,” said the companies in a joint blog post.

Notably, each company will apply its own policies and definitions of terrorist content when deciding what to remove from its platform — no content will be automatically removed after it’s added to the database. Similarly, each company will use its own policies to determine what content to share to the database. The companies will, however, share best practices.

“Throughout this collaboration, we are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and their ability to express themselves freely and safely on our platforms,” the blog post said. “We also seek to engage with the wider community of interested stakeholders in a transparent, thoughtful and responsible way as we further our shared objective to prevent the spread of terrorist content online while respecting human rights.”

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Google’s YouTube have all been under pressure from Western governments for not doing enough to remove content related to terrorist groups and far-right organizations. Likewise, in Germany, the Justice Minister has threatened to file criminal charges against Facebook for failing to curb hate speech from neo-Nazi affiliated groups.

The new collaboration also bodes well for the anathema of fake news, and could potentially pave a path for the companies working together on other initiatives too.

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