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article imageTech companies unite in new global forum against online terrorism

By James Walker     Jun 27, 2017 in Technology
Four of the largest technology companies have announced they're joining together in a coalition to stamp out online terrorism. Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube are the founding members of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.
The Forum intends to make digital consumer services into a "hostile" place for terrorists and violent extremists. The four companies will work together to promote and build ways of eradicating online terrorism to create safer communities. Initially, this will be done through three different methods.
First, the firms will develop new technical approaches to terrorism. Existing joint initiatives, such as the Shared Industry Hash Database, will be expanded. The central database is used to store digital "fingerprints" of known extremist photos and videos. Any of the supporting social networks can then check if the signature of new content being uploaded is already in the database. If it is, it's blocked from being shared again.
The Global Internet Forum will further develop this approach. The companies will also continue their individual work to build advanced AI-based approaches to identifying and removing terrorist content. The findings they make will be shared within the group, ensuring each of the firms has access to the latest breakthroughs.
The Forum will extend knowledge sharing outside of its own confines too. The founding members want to actively engage with smaller tech firms and existing counter-terrorism organisations to proactively combat new kinds of content. By working with initiatives like the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Anti-Defamation League and Global Network Initiative, the Forum intends to "socialize" anti-extremism best practices so they're ready for shared use.
The conception of the forum comes as tech companies find themselves under attack from users and governments. The use of social networks by terrorists has become a political discussion that's presenting a new challenge to the firms behind them.
The Forum's founding members are demonstrating they're taking a proactive stance to removing terrorist content. They also seem to have recognised that no company has yet developed an entirely satisfactory approach. By working together in a formal setting, the firms hope to mutually expand each other's strategies.
"We take [terrorism and extremism] very seriously, and each of our companies has developed policies and removal practices that enable us to take a hard line against terrorist or violent extremist content," said the founding members of the Forum in a joint announcement. "We believe that by working together, sharing the best technological and operational elements of our individual efforts, we can have a greater impact on the threat of terrorist content online."
More about Terrorism, online terrorism, Counterterrorism, Extremism, Social media