Reuters revealed that major websites like YouTube and Facebook had silently moved to automatically block extremist videos from their pages. The technology was originally introduced to remove and identify copyrighted material.
This quiet feature works by finding digital fingerprints or unique hashes to remove ISIS videos and similar material. This kind of technology might also be used for preventing reposts of unacceptable content.
Facebook and Google reps have not yet responded to official requests for comments. This automated process is just the latest in a series of moves to eradicate propaganda from the Internet, following an increase in terrorist threats around the world.
In December, President Obama asked the main social media players to help prevent attacks from terrorists by monitoring dangerous content and removing hate speech and also any terrorist activities taking place on their networks.
Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have agreed to a new EU code of conduct in May. This code establishes clear rules for illegal activities and online terrorism. Under the new provisions, these networks have agreed to review any such post within 24 hours of receipt and to remove the post if deemed necessary.
These major networks have already been sued by the father of a victim of the Paris terror attacks. He accused the networks of aiding terrorists, even though this isn’t completely true, as major networks receive millions of posts and hits daily.
Amid increasing violence on the web and pressure from worldwide Governments, companies are concerned over Internet radicalization. A non-profit project was put in place to tackle this problem. One of their proposals is to include a blocking system run by an independent authority.
Companies seem to have understood the importance of counter-terrorist measures and are now pushing their agenda to improve things, at least on-line. Although there is a lot of secrecy around these projects, people close to development departments have confirmed that they’re similar to the automated monitoring feature discussed above.
It is also unclear how much human effort and how much automated scripts are put in place to stop online threats. What is more, major companies have not yet agreed upon a standardized procedure to automatically block extremist videos. There is a question of where the line will be drawn between a call to violence and a passionate discourse.
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