by Larry Magid
Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Google’s YouTube today announced a Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism. Calling the spread of terrorism and violent extremism “a critical challenge for us all,” the four companies are working together to share best practices in both technological and operational efforts to have “a greater impact on the threat of terrorist content online.”
Earlier this year this quartet of Internet giants announced a partnership that included the creation of an “industry database of “hashes” — unique digital “fingerprints” — for violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images” that the companies had removed from their services.
This new forum comes after discussions with various governments including the UK as well as the European Council. In the wake of recent attacks on British soil, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has called for regulation suggesting that allied democratic governments “reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning” Earlier this month May, along with French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron announced a joint campaign to take on online radicalization, that will include creating ” a new legal liability for tech companies if they fail to remove inflammatory content, which could include penalties such as fines,” according to the Guardian.
The newly announced forum, which will include other companies beside the four founders, will focus on technology solutions, research and knowledge sharing. The four companies that that they “already partner with organizations such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Anti-Defamation League and Global Network Initiative to identify how best to counter extremism and online hate, while respecting freedom of expression and privacy.”
The companies also touted their collective “robust counter-speech initiatives” and said that the The forum”allows us to learn from and contribute to one another’s counterspeech efforts, and discuss how to further empower and train civil society organisations and individuals who may be engaged in similar work and support ongoing efforts such as the Civil society empowerment project (CSEP).”
Although not mentioned as part of this initiative, users can also play a role by using the services’ reporting features to alert companies to any terrorist material they find on the services.