As the pressure to curb the internet from terrorist videos and images intensifies, giant tech companies have taken a huge step as they have added the digital signatures of 40,000 terrorist videos and images to a shared database. This is done in order to stop extremist content on social media platforms and the internet in general.
Companies such as Facebook Inc., Google’s YouTube, Microsoft Corp, and Twitter late on Monday revealed those numbers in a joint blog post. These four giant social media companies are part of tech companies group called the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism last year announced that they are looking to start sharing digital fingerprints – known as hashes – of videos they eliminate from their platforms due to terrorism concerns.
Following the plan, when a company removes a price of content from its network due to the listed violations of terrorism, then that content is inputted into the shared database. In this case, if an individual or a group try to upload that same content to another platform, then the video or image is immediately flagged and removed by human analysts of the companies.
Politicians across Europe and the U.S have been heavily criticizing social media platforms as they urge them to do more in the fight against terrorism. One of the most active people is the British PM Theresa May who has on multiple occasions accused tech companies of not doing what is needed to keep extremists off their platforms. She also called for international regulatory bodies to clamp down on the companies in order to make them do more or face serious penalties.
Tech companies reacting to these requests have been showcasing their progress in the fight as they use AI and tools such as the shared hash database to identify and remove terrorist content faster on multiple platforms. In its blog post last week, Facebook stated that the company’s automated systems have been able to locate 99% of the ISIS and Al Qaeda-related content the social network removed even before the posts were identified as offensive or flagged by users. They also added that is some instances, they have been able to successfully prevent the video from being uploaded in the first place.
Twitter recorded a similar result back in September when they stated that they have removed 99% of terrorist posts without having to use complaints from users. Last month, YouTube stated that its algorithm has identified 83% of terrorist-related content that they have eliminated from their platform.
With the big tech companies now doing what is needed, attention is now being shifted to smaller social media platforms. Some of them that will be included in the shared database include Ask.FM, Cloudinary, Instagram, which is also owned by Facebook, Justpaste.it, LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, Oath, and Snap Inc. The notable platform that is missing is Telegram which has now become popular with terrorist as ISIS and others use it to spread propaganda and reach out to potential recruits.