Internet Companies Boost Anti-Terrorism Collaboration
Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube will work more closely together and with counter-terrorism officials to filter out extremist content from their websites.
Major internet companies on Monday doubled down on their efforts to stamp out terrorist and extremist content online, creating a collaborative forum to share data and cooperate with counter-terrorism agencies and organizations.
The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism counts Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube as its founding members, and will see the four companies work more closely together on anti-terrorism efforts. In addition to jointly developing technological solutions to filter out content that promotes terrorism, the companies said they will also establish a partnership with the United Nations Security Council and expand their sponsorship of content designed to dissuade terrorism.
"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 companies said in a statement.
The Forum members already have their own individual counter-terrorism operations. Microsoft redirects users of its Bing search engine who search for terrorism keywords to so-called "counterspeech," including videos of former extremists denouncing their activities. The four companies also have existing collaborations, including a program to share "hashes," unique digital fingerprints linked to extremist videos or photos.
Despite these efforts, the companies have come under fire from advocacy groups and governments for their inability to eradicate extremist-promoting content. The British government and several other big advertisers pulled their ads from YouTube earlier this year because they appeared alongside videos containing extremist, homophobic or racist content.
Facebook has had recent missteps, too, including inadvertently exposing the identities of content moderators tasked with banning terrorist groups from its platform earlier this month.