Last year, four of the biggest companies on the Internet — Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and YouTube — announced that in addition to their separate efforts to curb terrorism from their platforms, the companies will also work together to avert the menace.
Towards that end, all the four companies combined have formed the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism and will make a joint effort to eradicate terrorist-related or extremist content and users too.
“Each of our companies have developed policies and removal practices that enable us to take a hard line against terrorist or violent extremist content on our hosted consumer services,” Facebook stated.
The initial idea of collaboration was to create a ‘shared industry database’ of unique digital fingerprints that have been removed from any of the 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.
“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,” the company added.
3 Ways The Global Internet Forum Plans to Counter Terrorism
When the plan for collaboration to put up a fight against terrorism online was announced, each of the company had their own definition of ‘terrorist content’ and depending on their policies they may or may not delete content that their partnering firm has flagged as extremist or terrorist-related.
But now, it seems the firms have moved past their differences. According to the new announcement, the companies will lay focus on the following areas in order to be better equipped to fight terrorism.
The Shared Industry Hash Database, which was the result of their earlier talks to collaborate to fight terrorism, will be improved.
The companies will ‘exchange best practices’ as each of them will try out new techniques like machine learning to detect and avert such content.
“Our companies will work together to refine and improve existing joint technical work and define standard transparency reporting methods for terrorist content removals,” the company added.
The consortium will also lay focus on research to make sure that future technical and policy decisions are made keeping in mind the removal of terrorist content and ‘to inform our counter-speech efforts’
The Global Internet Forum has entered into a joint partnership with UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (UN CTED) and the ICT4Peace Initiative to establish a broad knowledge-sharing network.
They will also work with counter-terrorism experts to have a better understanding of terrorism and how to tackle it efficiently. The group will also help small companies to develop technology to tackle terrorist and extremist content online.
They are also partnering with organisations such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Anti-Defamation League and Global Network Initiative in order to not let their aim to tackle terrorism and hate content come in way of the freedom of expression and privacy of users on the Internet.
“We can socialise these best practices, and develop additional shared learnings on topics such as community guideline development, and policy enforcement,” the company stated.
Given their massive reach, the social media companies are doing this to avoid being messengers of terrorist propaganda worldwide. And with the uniformity in the idea to tackle terrorism now, as opposed to their discussion last year, this is a welcome move which also seems productive.