Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube: Here's how we'll stop terrorist propaganda

Rivals join forces to curb online terrorist propaganda through the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.


The new forum consisting of Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube builds on the shared database of hashes for terrorist propaganda video and imagery.

Image: Kamel Adjenef

The new Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism aims to make social-media platforms "hostile" to terrorists and violent extremists.

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube will use the forum to "share technological and operational elements" of their respective individual efforts to combat terrorist content.

In December at the EU Internet Forum, the four tech giants firms announced the shared database of hashes for terrorist propaganda video and imagery that have been removed from their services.

This forum builds on the hash database and will involve the companies sharing best practices for content detection and classification techniques using machine learning. The group will also work to define standard transparency reporting methods for terrorist content removals.

The new forum follows Google's admission that the industry should be doing more to tackle the use of social platforms to spread terrorist propaganda. Facebook recently detailed how it would use image matching and language analysis algorithms to identify and ensure terrorist propaganda remains off its platforms.

The counter-terror effort comes as governments seek new regulations to ensure tech firms assist law enforcement to deal with encrypted communications in criminal and national security investigations. Australia's attorney general is pushing this message at the Five-Eyes ministerial meeting in Canada this week.

Through a joint partnership with the UN Security Council Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate and ICT4Peace initiative, the firms will share knowledge with small companies to help them develop technology and processes to tackle terrorist and extremist content online.

The forum will also develop best practices for countering extremism online and share the lessons of various counter-speech initiatives, such as Alphabet's Jigsaw Redirect Method, and YouTube's Creators for Change.

"The forum we have established allows us to learn from and contribute to one another's counter-speech efforts, and discuss how to further empower and train civil society organizations and individuals who may be engaged in similar work and support ongoing efforts such as the Civil society empowerment project (CSEP)," the firms said in a joint statement.

It also builds on a Center for Strategic International Studies report that the companies contributed to, which highlighted the role of social media as an "accelerant" of violent extremism.

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