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Despite the launch of several initiatives over the years, many tech firms still face criticism for not doing enough to remove terrorist content from their respective platforms. Now, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube have joined forces in the hope of tackling the problem.
The four industry giants have announced the formation of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism. The collaboration aims to make it easier for members to work together and share technological solutions, such as the use of AI and machine learning, while exchanging best practices for removing terrorist material, developing new content detection techniques, and “define standard transparency reporting methods for terrorist content removals.”
"The spread of terrorism and violent extremism is a pressing global problem and a critical challenge for us all. We take these issues very seriously, and 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," wrote the group. "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 forum believes co-operation is the key in the fight against extremist material. It will be working with governments, civil groups, academics, and other companies to “identify how best to counter extremism and online hate, while respecting freedom of expression and privacy.”
Earlier this month, the first in Facebook’s series of “Hard Questions” blog posts examined how it deals with the extremist material that appears on the social network. The company revealed it had started using AI to combat the problem, and has a team of over 150 people dedicated to countering terrorism.
Following several recent terrorist attacks in the UK, the spotlight has once again fallen on tech firms' perceived lack of action. The incidents led to British Prime Minister Theresa May accusing the companies of giving terrorism “the safe space it needs to breed,” and calling for the internet to be regulated.