A shared database will be used to flag up content that appears to be trying to spread terror speech
Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Google have joined forces to tackle terror propaganda online by creating a database of unique digital fingerprints to help automatically spot terror related videos or images.
The information sharing initiative will kick-off in 2017 and will spread the means by which to identify content that companies should move to remove in order to curtail material that promoted terrorism.
Fighting terror propaganda
“Starting today, we commit to the creation of a shared industry database of “hashes” — unique digital “fingerprints” — for violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images that we have removed from our services,” said Facebook.
“By sharing this information with each other, we may use the shared hashes to help identify potential terrorist content on our respective hosted consumer platforms. 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.”
Each company will be able to independently assess whether to remove content flagged as being potential terror propaganda in relation to their policies and definitions of terrorist content. However, the database is intended to make it easier to spot dangerous propaganda amidst the mass of selfies, food photos and memes.
Technical details of the database and its construction have yet to be revealed by the quad of companies. But the move to create such a database appears to be in response to social networks being increasingly used at a recruitment platform for terrorists, which has seen the likes of Facebook and Twitter come under pressure from governments to tackle the propagation of extremism online.
Twitter has already been fairly active in trying to prevent activity related to terrorism on its network by pulling the plug on 235,000 accounts that violated its policies on the promotion of terrorism.
However, there are issues surrounding privacy and freedom of speech, though Facebook said the database will contain no personally identifiable information.
But concerns over privacy have often resulted in clashed between governments and tech companies, notably Apple with its refusal to unlock an iPhone belonging to a terrorist at the request of the FBI.
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