Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube, and Twitter have joined hands to combat growing terrorism across the globe. The quartet has announced a new partnership aimed at reducing the accessibility of internet services to terrorists. Called the “Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism,” the group would share technical solutions for removing terrorist content, commission research to inform their counter-speech efforts and work more with counter-terrorism experts.
The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism "will formalise and structure existing and future areas of collaboration between our companies and foster cooperation with smaller tech companies, civil society groups and academics, governments and supra-national bodies such as the EU and the UN," the companies said in a statement.
Each company will also contribute to both technical and policy research and share best practices for counterspeech initiatives. The companies describe their new effort as the continuation of the EU Internet Forum and the Shared Industry Hash Database, among other efforts. The Internet Forum, launched in 2015, is a public-private partnership that pushes for better methods of identifying and removing terrorist propaganda and hate speech.
The Hash Database, on the other hand, involved sharing hashes or unique digital fingerprints by which the group was able to collectively identify terror accounts without each having to do the time- and resource-intensive legwork independently.
Meanwhile, the companies say that they will be teaching smaller companies and organizations to follow in their footsteps to adopt their own proactive plans for combating terror. A portion of this training will cover key strategies for executing counterspeech programs like YouTube’s Creators for Change and Facebook’s P2P and " target="_blank" rel="noopener">OCCI.
Amidst global criticism for not doing much to curb terrorist activities and content on their platforms, tech companies have doubled on their efforts to fix the issue. While Facebook recently opened up about its efforts to remove terrorist content from its platform, Google also announced additional measures to identify and remove violent extremist content on its video-sharing platform YouTube shortly thereafter.
Twitter too suspended 376,890 accounts for violations related to the promotion of terrorism in the second half of 2016 and will share further updates on its efforts to combat violent extremism on its platform in its next Transparency Report.