Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft are collaborating to get rid of content from their networks which promotes terrorism and create a ‘shared industry database’ of unique digital fingerprints that have been removed from either of their networks.
Using this database, which will contain a record of all the imagery and videos of acts of terrorism or terrorist recruitment, the companies hope to curb the presence of such content on their hosted consumer services.
All the aforementioned companies will be sharing their respective database with each other and hope to deter the presence of terrorism globally in the online ecosystem.
This will make it easier for the companies to remove the images and videos that propagate terrorism more efficiently and quickly.
“Throughout this collaboration, we are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and their ability to express themselves freely and safely on our platforms. 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 stated in a Newsroom post.
A Welcome Move But the Policies Still Need Uniformity
The companies have already started sharing ‘hashes’, which contain the unique digital fingerprints of terrorism-related content that each company has found on its services.
Using the pooled database, each company can then scan their networks for matching hashes and then according to respective company policy, can flag the content.
The only downside of this collaboration is that companies have their own definition of ‘terrorist content’ and depending on their policies they may or may not delete content that their partnering firm has hashed.
“Each company will continue to apply its own policies and definitions of terrorist content when deciding whether to remove content when a match to a shared hash is found. As part of this collaboration, we will al focus on how to involve additional companies in the future,” Facebook continued in its Newsroom post.
Although government organisations can legally access information to invest the account responsible for the origin of a hashed content, Facebook has maintained that users’ privacy won’t be affected by this move and they will continue to enjoy their freedom to express themselves freely on the platform.
While this is a welcome move, this also means that there is a chance that Twitter hashes a violent terrorist video or imagery which might still be readily streaming on Facebook’s news feed.
Given their massive reach, the social media companies are doing this to avoid being messengers of terrorist propaganda worldwide.
That’s not of much help now as both of them are social media biggies and uniformity in tackling such content and assist the world in fighting terrorism is the need of the hour, especially since social media networks are one of the biggest messengers of content worldwide.