Facebook Repurposes Tech To Combat Extremist Videos

Facebook, YouTube and other platforms have made fresh steps to block extremist content, according to a report

Twitter and Youtube logos in front of an ISIS flag. — REUTERS
Jun 26, 2016 at 6:49 AM ET

Facebook, YouTube, and other sites are using technology that was designed to tackle copyright-infringing content to instead quickly remove extremist videos uploaded on their platforms, Reuters reports.

The technology utilizes “hashes,” a type of digital fingerprint that websites use to match rule-breaking videos with others that have already violated their content policies, according to Reuters. Sources told the news agency that this process allows extremist content to be removed rapidly, but only if such content has already been identified as such—suggesting that live videos like the one uploaded by an attacker in Paris earlier this month would not be automatically prevented from appearing on Facebook.

The sources didn’t say how much human intervention is involved after the technology identifies videos as extremist.

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Facebook, Google, Twitter, web security provider CloudFlare, and other internet companies held a conference call in late April to discuss ways to prevent the dissemination of extremist content on the web, Reuters reported. One of the solutions tabled was an algorithm the Counter Extremism Project—a non-profit organization—designed to suppress such content.

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President’s Obama’s most senior counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco, said on Friday the algorithm would “enable companies to address terrorist activity on their platforms and better respond to the threat posed by terrorists’ activities online,” Foreign Policy reported.

The tech companies, however, were reluctant to adopt the algorithm, citing concerns over what is defined as “extremist” content.